Today we have a guest post from a friend of mine, Dr. Janet Carter. I've known her online since I was in optometry school and have always enjoyed her insight and humor. I am glad she took me up on the offer to write a guest post and hope she considers blog herself. - Dr. Nate
OK, it’s happened. Your child came home from school with a note from the nurse saying she had difficulties with the vision screening. Or perhaps she is complaining of trouble seeing the blackboard or headaches reading. Or maybe a previously undiagnosed condition was discovered during her yearly eye examination. Regardless of the scenario, you have to face the fact that your child will soon be wearing glasses. Her success in doing so will greatly depend on your attitude towards this development.
The importance of your attitude in making sure your child has the proper vision correction begins before you even visit the optometrist. Tell your child what to expect during the visit, but don’t dwell on anything unpleasant. She may have her eyes dilated, but this needn’t be a cause for concern. The dilation drops that most optometrists use today are much gentler and not nearly as long-lasting in their effects as ones you may have experienced as a child. Let her know that her vision may be a little blurry afterwards, but it won’t be too bad. Try and schedule the visit on a day when there isn’t an important homework assignment or sporting event.
During the actual examination, relax and let your optometrist do his job. If you are nervous about the examination, your child will be too. Remember that the equipment and configuration of the examination is such that your child may actually see something different than you do from your “sidelines” position. Don’t be upset if your child misses a letter or two (most people do during an eye examination), and please don’t try and help or coach your child. Let your child know that this isn’t a test like you take in school, and there is no right or wrong answer to any of the questions. Most children find an eye examination to be an interesting and fun experience if they are relaxed and rested. (Don’t forget to make sure she IS well-rested and well fed when she goes in for the visit, and encourage her to visit the restroom first as well. A hungry, tired child or one who has to go to the bathroom can’t concentrate properly).
Once the examination is over, it will be time for the fun part: choosing your child’s first pair of glasses! Make sure that she understands that this IS fun! Glasses are a fashion statement these days. Your attitude will make all the difference in how your child enjoys her new eyewear, so keep it positive. Let your child know how proud you are of them, and how glad you are that they soon will be seeing properly.
Setting guidelines and limits ahead of time will make the frame selection easier for both you AND your child. If money is a concern, let the frame stylist know in private before you begin. He or she should be happy to show only options that meet your budget. Let the frame stylist give tips on the proper frames for your child and her prescription; certain frame styles aren’t appropriate for all prescriptions. The stylist should have a good idea of which frames will best work for your child. Let her show examples of these, and let your child choose from among them. She is the one who will wear them; make sure that she likes the style and color. You might consider taking a cell phone picture of the favorite “candidates” and sending it to your friends and family for their input. Above all, keep it fun! Remember to keep praising your child and telling her how great she looks in her new eyewear!
There are several important things to remember when it is time to pick up your child’s new glasses. The first is to be sure to bring your child with you. The glasses need to be adjusted to her face to insure that they are fitting properly. The dispenser should instruct your child on how to take care of the glasses, and when to wear them. Your optometrist may want your child to wear them constantly or perhaps just for specific tasks such as reading. Make sure you understand the instructions and that your child does too. Remember that new eyeglasses DO take some getting used to, and it is possible that your child might feel a little “funny” when they first put them on, and may even report blurred vision. These sensations are totally normal, and should pass quickly if she continues to wear the glasses. Any difficulty seeing or other problems that persist after a week or two should be reported to your optometrist.
You will want to contact your child’s teacher(s) and explain about the new eyeglasses to them as well. Be sure that the teachers understand the wearing schedule. Ask the teacher to say something positive about your child’s new glasses when he first sees her wearing them. This will help your child get over that first day embarrassment, especially if the comment is made in front of her classmates.
Your child must understand that eyeglasses are a valuable accessory and are to be treated accordingly. I have a rule that I tell all children who get eyeglasses from my office: “If it’s not on your face, it’s in the case!” Check the eyeglasses from time to time and make sure that they are clean, well-cared for, and adjusted properly to your child’s face. It’s a good idea to bring your child in for eyeglass “tune-ups” every few months. The optical staff can adjust the glasses, make sure that they continue to fit properly, and check for loose screws and other problems. Eyeglasses are like automobiles; a little preventative maintenance protects your investment!
If you approach your child’s new eyeglasses in a sensible, positive manner, she will too. Soon she will be enjoying the benefits of good vision, and will be wearing the eyeglasses proudly and appropriately. She will come to appreciate the positive difference that seeing properly can make in her life. She will be happier and probably will do better in school. You can make sure that her good vision continues for a lifetime by following your doctors recommended eye care schedule. Just don’t be too surprised when one day she asks “Mom, Dad, when can I get contact lenses?”
(But that’s the subject for another article….)
Janet Carter has practiced optometry in Nevada for over 30 years. She is now a member of the EyeCare Center group in Las Vegas. She enjoys seeing children of all ages in her practice!
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care