How to Know if Your Child Needs Glasses

People frequently ask me how we knew Lula needed glasses. Allow me to show you Exhibit A:

We had a pretty large “red flag” early on. But seriously though, how cute is that little lazy eye? When she was about two and the lazy eye hadn’t improved, we decided it probably wouldn’t always be cute and it might mean she had some trouble seeing. Duh! I wish we hadn’t waited so long. After we found out that she had really bad farsightedness and astigmatism, we got her her first pair of glasses. When she put them on, at two years of age, she said, “I can see!” It just about killed me.

Then people asked me how she did with keeping them on… being two and what not. That was literally never an issue. I think Diesel broke her glasses once when he was a baby. Other than that, it was never an issue because SHE COULD SEE. Why in the world would she take them off or try to break the thing that made her world beautiful? (I know… not every two year old is that rational, which is why they make those unbreakable rubber frames.)

When it came to Diesel, things weren’t nearly as obvious. In fact, they weren’t obvious at all. He has always been very dexterous and worked with really small objects very easily. He could put puzzles together easily at an early age and see the tiny little details in pictures. He wasn’t clumsy or awkward. So we really had no warning. Over the last year maybe we noticed he would occasionally walk up really close to the TV or turn his head kind of sideways when he was reading or looking at something, but other than that, everything seemed normal.

At his kindergarten screening for school, the nurse mentioned he had a little bit of a problem we might want to get checked out, but it didn’t seem very serious, and based on his fine-tuned motor skills and how well he was doing in preschool, I just rolled my eyes and put it out of my mind… mostly.

But I noticed more and more that he was tilting his head and moving closer to things. So when it was time for Lula’s yearly check up, I decided to make him an appointment too, thinking everything would be fine. As they started to do the initial exam with the letters on the screen, I started panicking. With his left eye covered, he couldn’t read a giant letter that basically covered the whole screen. I was in shock, holding back the tears, and wondering once again why I was such a horrible mom. (I’m being dramatic, people. I know I’m an amazing mother. :))

Turns out, Diesel’s eyes (or mainly one eye) are worse than Lula’s. The doctor was surprised that his right eye wasn’t turning in as Lula’s left one had. (How funny of a picture would that have been with opposite eyes turning in next to each other?! You can laugh or cry, guys. I prefer laughter… most of the time.)

This doctor was wonderful to explain a lot more than I’d ever understood about Lula’s eyes. He explained that farsightedness was something you’re born with. He said that Diesel has basically had the same eye sight since he was born. He also has astigmatism like Lula. With correction (aka glasses), the farsightedness can actually improve. Lula’s prescription is less strong now than it was initially. So that’s good news.

Here’s the kicker. When you’re young, your eyes can adjust and compensate for any issues. So his left eye, his better eye, has been working really hard to compensate for the right eye’s deficiencies, which is why he didn’t ever seem to be struggling. But over time, that right eye would basically have given up and kicked the bucket if we hadn’t discovered this and worked to correct it. The pathways in his brain would’ve been so set, it would’ve been nearly impossible to change. He eventually would’ve started getting headaches and possibly other issues when his left eye decided it was done doing all the work. Lefty would’ve been stressed out and struggled more and more to do all the work.

SO… the moral of this story is: GET YOUR KID’S EYES CHECKED EARLY!!! Whether you think there’s an issue or not. It cost about $100 for an exam at a legit place (don’t count on your pediatrician to make a call on this… I’ve heard stories!) if your insurance doesn’t cover it. $100 to make sure your child can SEE. That doesn’t seem like too big a cost to me.

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