Glasses have become the bane of my existence and yet I am truly beholden to them.
All three of my children wear glasses. If you have seen some of my previous Wordless Wednesday posts that feature those little rascals, you probably already realize this (even though you will also see photos of a glass-less baby girl because she often breaks and loses hers). What you may not realize is how important the issue of children’s vision has become to me.
I thank goodness nearly every day that I have a fabulous family doctor that noticed my middle son’s right eye turning out ever-so-slightly and referred us immediately to our now fabulous pediatric ophthalmologist. Something I would never have thought we would ever have to do – neither I nor my husband wear glasses. This was all new territory.
That was the beginning of a long journey of glasses, patches, doctors visits, tears, and lots and lots of money (and to be totally honest, lots of yelling about the bent and broken glasses that are inevitable with young children). But I know that we have it easy compared to a lot of other families.
My little monster was 6 months old when our family doctor saw him for his regular check-up and recognized that his eyes were not quite right. She sent us to a pediatric ophthalmologist in the neighboring town, which we were able to do within a week or two. I can’t remember what I was expecting when I went to the appointment, but I am pretty sure it wasn’t what I thought.
For one thing, I had never been to an opthamologist myself. For another, how in the world do you test a baby’s eyes?
Well it turns out that they can and do and it is incredibly accurate what they can determine a baby can see without their participation (i.e. reading letters or numbers off a chart or giving any kind of feedback whatsoever).
I found out that day that my baby boy was severely farsighted and needed glasses. Immediately. His prescription is something like +9.
It almost makes me cry when I think back to when he got his glasses and tried them on for the first time. He looked at me and could really see me for the first time. I saw his face just light up and felt my heart melt.
He saw bubbles for the first time later that week when we went to our Gymboree class. I had previously thought that he just didn’t enjoy the bubbles. In fact, he just couldn’t see them.
My oldest was 2.5 at the time and I thought I should maybe take him in too, just to be sure. I nearly canceled the appointment several times because he had always passed screening tests with flying colors, could see the tiniest pieces of fuzz in the carpet, or read small letters in a book. Even at first look, the ophthalmologist thought he looked fine. Once dilated, however, it became clear that he was also farsighted and needed a prescription of about +4.5.
So, when I was pregnant with baby girl about a year-and-a-half later, we already knew she would have to have her exam at 6 months (the earliest a child can, or should, have a full eye exam without other medical issues). She is also severely farsighted and her prescription is about +6.5.
If you have any concern beyond a normal vision screening at school or check-up at the doctor, a pediatric ophthalmologist or optometrist is your first stop. Pediatric ophthalmologists recommend eye exams for all kids by the age of 3 or sooner if there is a family history of vision problems. Even though, as you can see in my family’s case, there was no family history. In fact, many ophthalmologists and optometrists recommend a full exam in a child’s first year of life for all children.
Again, I am thankful every day that I have an amazing family doctor, a fantastic pediatric ophthalmologist, and that I can afford (even if it is a struggle sometimes) to buy glasses for three children without insurance. I am incredibly grateful that their vision is corrected with glasses.
It is imperative that vision problems be caught and corrected as soon as possible because it can greatly affect the physical and intellectual development. This is not a case of forcing a child to use his eyes to prevent reliance on corrective glasses. Young children can often force their eyes to focus and do the work required, but it is not good for their developing bodies. Please listen to the ophthalmologist. Find a good one, and truly listen.
1 in 10 children is at risk from undiagnosed vision problems.
- InfantSEE® – provides a one-time, comprehensive eye assessment to infants in their first year of life, offering early detection of potential eye and vision problems at no cost regardless of income.
- Sight for Students – provides free vision exams and glasses to low-income, uninsured children.
- Prevent Blindness America – the nation’s leading volunteer eye health and safety organization dedicated to fighting blindness and saving sight.
- Lions Club Sight Programs - projects aimed at preventing blindness, restoring eyesight and improving eye care for hundreds of millions of people worldwide through: eyeglass recycling, Lions Eye Banks, vision screening, and treatment.
- Little Four Eyes and Facebook Group - a community for family and friends of little ones in glasses.