Well if I’m going to be completely honest, I’m Diane, Amy, Birdi and Frank’s mom. They are each a bit more than two years apart, and I may be one of the older 30-year-olds that I know. Birdi is not my first child to need glasses, but she’s the youngest of the crew so far, and has a very strong prescription. So here’s how our story begins.
Spring is upon us, and Birdi is enrolling in her second year of preschool. As we ready our paperwork, we realize that she is a bit overdue for her four year checkup. I make an appointment, and wrestle my 20 month old son under one arm, while holding Birdi’s little hand with my own. At the doctor’s office, she obediently and cheerfully hops on the scale, a perfect 30 pounds. Then it’s over to the wall to be measured. She’s a peanut just a hair over three feet. The nurse asks if I think she could handle the vision test, which is merely a poster with simple black and white pictures. The nurse positions Birdi and I at a predetermined distance from the wall.
“Okay Birdi, what’s this a picture of?”
Birdi fidgets, rubs her eyes and looks shyly to me.
“I don’t know.”
I press her a little…
“Birdi, you know what that is! You just had one of your own at your party not long ago.”
She continues to fidget and won’t look up. The nurse walks up to us and takes Birdi’s hand, then steps Birdi forward about 5 feet.
“A birthday cake!” yelps Birdi as the nurse points at the top picture.
In the exam room, the doctor suggests we follow up at the eye care place of our choice. There is a chain place that I go to and figure that will be enough to see if she really has a need for correction, or just has a short attention span. We are actually able to get her in that same afternoon.
Now, I walked into that office with a resolve to not be “sold” glasses. I have come to question the integrity of some chains, and figured that if she only needed minor correction, we might do some homework before buying a pair of glasses that will be ready in an hour. So we step into the dim room, Birdi starts her exam. About 15-20 minutes later, the optometrists takes off his own glasses to rub his eyes and say
It turns out, that by his best measurements, Birdi has a prescription of +7.5 in one eye and+7.0 in the other. He explains that this is a very strong Rx for a kidlet, and wants someone who works very closely with children to take a better measurement. He gives me a phone number and sends us on our way.
Oh, and of course he reminds me that I am welcome to bring the Rx back and they can fill it for us. I snickered. I couldn’t help it.
So I go home a bit shell shocked. I mean, she can see right? She does sit directly in front of the TV, but what kid doesn’t? I find myself quizzing her with a black and white picture of her and Chuck E. Cheese from her birthday. I turn it sideways so that instead of side by side, she and the resin figure are alternately on the top or bottom of the picture. She’s excited about the game until she can’t see it anymore, and it should be clear as day. Suddenly things are making sense.
Birdi is pushy to be in front, and she has a short attention span. She loves to hear a bedtime story, but will fidget as soon as the book is out of her hands. What I think was happening, is that she loses interest the minute the object she is to be focusing on grows blurry.
So our next stop was the specialist. We made an appointment with the only pediatric ophthalmology office in our area. The drive is just shy of an hour, but the office was great. We were seen in a timely manner. The verdict: both eyes are around +5.5. He informed me that though this was a pretty big prescription, it was not horrible. My biggest question of course is how she sees now. He explained it this way..
Small children have a remarkable ability to accommodate for vision shortcomings. Birdi is able to see things, but it takes a lot of work. Basically she focuses on something (say a flower) and takes in the information about it (it’s yellow with petals) and then her eyes relax again. Her brain has all the info it needs and moves on. Once she gets her glasses, though she will recognize things the way they always were, I might notice her staring, because now there is no stress when trying to take in more details. It made sense to me, and I am very eager for her to get her new specs.
The doctor decided that we would start with a Rx of +4.5 in both eyes, and see how that affected her sight over the next few months. He handed me our prescription and suggested we just use the optometry shop right there. We ordered her new glasses to the tune of over $300, and still do not have them. I called after 10 days had passed, and it turns out that her glasses had come in, but were unreasonably thick and heavy, so he sent them back to have them remade. It has now been 15 days, and I left a message today. I am frustrated and impatient, and have decided to order a backup pair from Zenioptical so that if something should happen to her “good” glasses, she won’t be without for terribly long.
There’s our story thus far. My questions are still many: How will she look? Will she really see things differently? Will she keep them on? Will her eyes look funny? Will her vision seem worse when she takes them off? Will this get better?
I look forward to sharing some pictures of her in her new specs, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to share our story.