When I shared photos of Alice getting her glasses last year, we got a lot of questions about the whole deal and I meant to write about it then.
People wanted to know how we knew she needed glasses, why she needed glasses, why we took her to the eye doctor in the first place And I realized that taking your baby to the eye doctor isn't just a thing that everyone does. The pediatrician doesn't ask about it, the way they do the dentist, and I think they even ask about that too late (at least, ours, anyway). Some pediatricians may do an eye exam, but I haven't heard of them doing a routine eye exam on anyone younger than 5 unless they thought there was a problem. And a lot of times, pediatricians don't notice vision problems, even when they exist (as I assume was the case in the article linked above, where her daughter was nearly blind).
It probably wouldn't have occurred to us either, except that Jon and I both wear glasses and contacts, (respectively) and visit the eye doctor regularly. We love our optometrists and during our visits, we'd chat about the pregnancy, and then the new baby. They suggested that we bring Alice in for an exam when she was about ten months old.
Well, we didn't get our act together until she was eighteen months old. But we brought her in and she was very curious and cooperative and they gave her a good exam. They were able to tell then that she was nearsighted, which did not surprise Jon or I, since we are both nearsighted. Since Alice didn't seem to be squinting or struggling to see anything, and obviously wasn't in school trying to see up to the front of a classroom, they said we didn't need to be concerned at that point. But we brought her back a year later for another check-up, when she was nearly three, and they said the same thing. We brought her back the next year for another check-up, close to her fourth birthday. I think this was the first time that we heard she had an astigmatism, which is also not surprising, since Jon and I both have astigmatisms as well.
This time, they recommended that she get glasses. They said that if we were able to help correct her vision now, even part-time, it would help her vision and her brain develop better and that it would be easier to correct her vision later. If left uncorrected now, corrective lenses may not be able to help to the full potential, and her vision could still be lacking.
So she got to pick out some cute new specs for her fourth birthday! She wanted purple ones, and though the ones she tried on were an adorable tortoiseshell brown that I loved, she was SO excited to find out that the style also came in purple. So we ordered them, and fitted them to her tiny face, and a few weeks later, she was bespectacled.
Unfortunately, since she only needs to wear them part-time, we have had an awfully hard time remembering to put them on. We really need to set a reminder or something.
But there you have it. Maybe you have perfect vision and it never occurred to you to take your kid to the eye doctor, or maybe no one ever suggested it to you, but I'm here to tell you to do it and do it early! They test hearing in the hospital before your newborn is even discharged, but vision is obviously an equally important form of development and you may not even notice if there is something wrong. Your kid is probably not going to be able to tell you, either!
So if you haven't taken your kid yet, make an appointment today! And if you haven't been in a while, make an appointment for yourself, too. Vision isn't the only important aspect of eye health, and it's very much worth taking care of one of your most precious organs and senses!
*UPDATE: I squeezed in another appointment for Alice and I before we left town, so I could get my years' supply of contacts.
Alice's prescription has changed just a tiny bit and the doctor noticed that her astigmatism had gotten a little worse, so she recommended a new pair of glasses. She also recommended that Alice start wearing them full-time. After our move, Alice won't be in school and it it should be a little easier for us to make sure she wears her glasses all the time until kindergarten starts. She has a habit of taking them off when they start to bother her and laying them down somewhere, so we don't let her wear them to school. But after six months of full-time use, I expect she'll be so accustomed to wearing them that she'll be able to go to kindergarten and not even notice that she has them on.
Since we only had a few days before we leave, the optician rush ordered a few frames that Alice liked and we went in to make the final decision and have them fitted to her face.
The optician and I both loved the little purple cat-eyes, but Alice liked the pink ones with the pink roses on the ear pieces. And they are awfully cute - way cuter than the pink glasses I had when I was ten! So they'll get their prescription lenses and then arrive in our mailbox in Washington!