My 7 year old son has glasses, and so does my 9 year old daughter. So do I. And my husband has recently joined us in the glasses club when he needs to read. So we’re quite the specky-four-eyed family (remember that un-PC phrase from the 70s?!)
The thing is the only reason my daughter has glasses is because my son started to wear them from a very young age. Aged three, in fact. She started to complain of headaches after school when in year 3, aged 7. But she wouldn’t have asked to have her eyes tested if my son’s eyesight wasn’t such a big issue in our family.
You see my son has both a squint and a ‘lazy’ eye: one eye turns in slightly (squint) and is also very short sighted. The other is near perfect. It was the squint that made me contact the doctor when he was three, after my mum urged me to do something about it, remembering the problems my brother had when young. When we got the appointment with the orthoptic team at the local Children’s Centre, they discovered that not only did he have a squint, but his right eye was so weak, that his brain was not using it at all. Yikes, that was quite a surprise.
The prescription for this was glasses and patching. Patching for a set number of hours a day, is the accepted way to force the ‘lazy’ eye to work. We patched for an hour a day initially, working up to 6 hours a day. The first time we did it he complained “Everything’s dark, mummy!” Yikes (again). It was hard, there’s no doubt, but with lots of encouragement and sticker charts/rewards, his eye made a massive improvement in just one year. The improvement was much more gradual after that, and it is no where near perfect, but if we hadn’t patched him at that early age (we started when he was 3, nearly 4), we wouldn’t have seen the improvement we now have.
My point is that if it wasn’t for that squint, that slight turning in of the eye, we wouldn’t have had his sight tested, and would have been oblivious to the fact that he was, in effect, blind in one eye.
Getting your kids’ sight tested is so important. Kids don’t often realise their sight is poor, thinking that fuzzy vision is normal. Problems can be presented as frequent headaches, struggles with reading or homework, or even anti-social behaviour – if a child can’t see the teacher properly or the work on the white board, they’ll easily become bored and distracted…..
Here in the UK, sight tests for children (up to the age of 18) at any opticians are free. If there are particular problems, or they are too young for a normal eye test (like my son) they get free treatment on the NHS. We’ve had excellent care from the team at the Children’s Centre (in other towns the same professionals may be located in your local hospital).
Kids should get their eyes tested when they start school aged 4. However, my daughter’s problems either weren’t picked up or developed after that test, so don’t just rely on the school eye test.
As my son is sporty, and still needs glasses, I can see that as he gets older he’ll probably need to consider contact lenses. And my daughter will most likely start to refuse to wear her glasses at some point if she finds none of her peers wearing them or they’re considered uncool (which thankfully isn’t yet). When that day comes, I’m happy to consider contact lenses if it means they can see properly and don’t wander around half blind (my sister in law confessed to doing this as a teenager, as contact lenses were far more expensive then and the glasses on offer were far from the cool ones you can get now). Thanks to Ben 10 and the current Star Wars style, my son is content to wear glasses for now.
So, what you waiting for? Go book that optician appointment!
NB This was NOT a sponsored post.