Friday, 28 February 2014

Time for Glasses

When Miss C was four months old I noticed a movement in her eyes that didn't settle.  That began a journey of several thousand miles (back from the Falkland Islands) for specialist eye tests and the diagnosis of Nystagmus as a result of Albinism.  Glasses became a part of Miss C's life.

When we moved to Wales we went to the opticians to get Miss C's glasses fitted and they advised that we have eye tests for the other three.  It had never occurred to me to have the children's eyes tested.  They had never had any problems seeing things as far as I was aware.  Vaguely I remember having eye tests at school, but it's not something that seems to happen anymore.

I was very glad we agreed to the eye tests - since they were free it seemed silly not to.  As a result of the eye tests we discovered that while Miss A has perfect vision in one eye the other was limited.  We would probably not have realised, since the perfect eye compensated for the lack in the other.  However, by catching the problem when she was small we have a good chance of strengthening her vision.  Apparently if you begin treatment before a child reaches 7 there is a lot more they can do.

You may wonder how a child who can't read can have an eye test?  Well, it's different for a baby, obviously - you'd need to talk to an optician for a real explanation, but they uses lenses and lights and measure the reflections & reactions, I think.  For a child who can talk they use images in different places on a board to watch where the child looks and ask them what they can see.  For a more articulate child - Miss C aged 2 and a half was just able to do this recently - they use stylised pictures in the same way they use letters for adults: a boat, a flower, a house etc.  This final style of test is much more accurate, apparently.

Visits to the opticians have become a matter of routine for the entire family now.  Miss C has to see her specialists at the eye hospital every six months, while Miss I, Mr J and Miss A all have regular check ups at the optician in town.  A couple of weeks ago I managed to book the three of them in for their routine checks all together first thing on a Saturday.  This kind of scheduling is vital when you have a large family.  Leaving the two younger ones with Daddy, we trooped into the opticians at 9am just after they opened and one by one the children went through the tests - Miss I and Mr J with letters, Miss A with pictures.  Each of them had new photos taken of their eyes and Mr J was deeply fascinated with the optician's explanation of how the eye worked and what each part did.

Then came the analysis.  Miss A's eyes are continuing to improve steadily, which is great news, although her 3D vision is still pretty poor (she saw a man sliding down a hill rather than a car).  Miss I's vision remains fine, much to her relief.  Mr J, on the other hand, much to his utter delight, has be prescribed reading glasses to use when his eyes are tired.  I have never known a child to be quite so excited at the prospect of getting glasses.  He's rather disappointed that he doesn't have to wear them all the time, and was even more disappointed when he had to wait for the glasses to be made.  He's been desperate to take them into school, but as I only picked them up from the optician Friday before half term started he hasn't been able to yet.  Fortunately the novelty hasn't worn off.  He puts them on with an attitude of great importance and I expect on Monday morning when he goes back to school he will either be wearing them or will have them in the case ready to put on when he gets to class.  I guess he does look rather cool.

As a result of all of this, I have become a vocal advocate for children having eye tests.  As Mr J's reaction confirms, glasses aren't the trauma they were when I was growing up and if you can help to improve your child's vision by catching any problems early it has got to be worth doing.  I wonder, however, how many people are like me and never considered taking their child to see an optician.  Have you?



  1. Orli, Just Breathe28 February 2014 at 23:47

    Getting eye tests for kids is so important, and honestly I can't understand why they don't do them regularly here. Eyes develop until you are 7 years old, so it is the best time to treat them. Besides, I love those tiny glasses :) Just found Yon's first glasses in one of the drawers the other day - so cute...
    Glad that they love their glasses and that miss A's eyes are getting better! x

  2. I totally agree that they should have regular eye tests for kids. We used to have a basic one at school, but they don't even do that anymore. I try to encourage everyone I know to get their kids' eyes tested, but I guess it's like everything - until you need to you don't really think about it.

  3. Like you I had no idea but have just taken Miss E and she now needs glasses, so the other two are going in the next few weeks. Amazing how they don't publicise that kids should have eye tests isn't it? Mich x

  4. I think some opticians do advertise to suggest kids are tested, but some don't want to. The government should put out some kind of campaign encouraging parents to take their four & five year olds before they start school, I think. I hope Miss E likes her glasses!

  5. I agree there should be a campaign. She picks them up in a couple of weeks and is very weary, we will have to convince her.

    Once she gets them I'll blog on the subject too. Mich x


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