We knew from the get go that glasses were pretty much a given for our kids. Matt’s whole family has been cursed with some pretty bad eyesight, and every one of them has worn glasses for the bulk of their lives. My family has much better eyesight, at least while we’re young. Age makes the eyesight go downhill fairly rapidly and by 40 pretty much everyone in my family wears glasses as well. So, coming or going my kids were destined to wear glasses.
Matt got his glasses around the time he turned 12 and I’ve worn reading glasses off and on since my teenage years as well, so when we had Brendan we figured we had years and years before we needed to really take a look at his eyesight. Unfortunately that was not the case. At 5 months old Brendan was diagnosed with Nystagmus which basically means that his eyes track horizontally back and forth constantly. When he was very little the condition was very pronounced and noticeable. We were told at the time that in addition to the Nystagmus that Brendan was also far sighted, but that there was a chance that he would grow out of the far sightedness and never need glasses to correct the problem.
We saw the pediatric opthamologist every couple of months to track Brendan’s progress when he was little. By 18 months they determined he was not going to grow out of his sight issues and he got his very first pair of glasses. I’ve never known a challenge quite like trying to keep glasses on the face of an active 18 month old. We eventually invested in a strap that prevented Brendan from removing the glasses himself. Unfortunately this did not stop the other toddlers in his classroom from ripping them up and over his head. We went through many many pairs of frames during that first year (27 all together), thankfully the eyeglass store we went through has an amazing warranty for their glasses and we were able to replace his frames every time at no cost to us.
Once Brendan showed signs of eye issues at such a young age, we were told there was a good chance the problems he was having were hereditary and it was recommended that we bring our other kids in to be examined at an early age. The eye doctor requested to see Cameron for the first time when he turned three. Now, we are the type of people that when we get a recommendation like that of course we’re going to listen and take our kids in to get the exam. But when Cameron was three we really wondered why in the world we were wasting our time taking “eagle eye” into the doctor. That kid had the ability to spot an airplane or a bird from a few thousand feet away, he would see someone standing on a corner 2-3 blocks away and comment on their hat. He saw things that took Matt and I a good 5 minutes to locate. In our honest opinion there was no way Cameron could possibly have any eye issues.
Boy were we wrong. They examined Cameron and, like his brother before him, he was far sighted. So my little “eagle eye” could locate all these things far off in the distance and describe them in the minutest detail, but apparently couldn’t see the nose on his face. Also, like Brendan they said there was a chance he’d grow out of the condition and didn’t put him into glasses right away. Of more concern at the time was that Cameron was developing a lazy eye. Due to an astigmatism in his left eye, he was relying pretty heavily on his right eye for all of his vision. The doctor asked to see him again when he turned 4, and to bring him in sooner if we noticed any major degeneration in his ability to see. They also recommended that since we were now 2 for 2 on kids having eyesight issues that we bring in Kaylee when she turned 1.
So, 6 months later we took the princess in for her very first eye checkup. In the years since Brendan had been that little, I’d almost forgotten what a pain in the neck it is to do an eye exam for a baby. Obviously they aren’t able to tell you what they can and can’t see, so the eye doctor has to do a bunch of alternative tests to determine what the baby can see. One of the coolest ones they did was to dialate her eyes, hold up a lens and shine a light through it. Apparently how her eyes reacted to the reflected light told the doctor what she was seeing. But having to have her eyes dialated and then keeping her entertained while the eye drops kicked in, then having to hold her still long enough for them to examine her eyes was enough to make me want to pull my hair out.
The only up side, she wasn’t showing any signs of eyesight issues. They didn’t need to see her again until she turned 3. Thank goodness. At least by 3 they’re able to sit up in the chair alone and do most of the testing by themselves. Meanwhile, the year had passed and it was time to take Cameron back to the eye doctor. The result, Cameron’s eyesight had not gotten any better, and the lazy eye had gotten worse. Now, back in the “olden days” the only treatment I ever knew of to treat a lazy eye was with an eye patch. I sat in the doctors office dreading every word coming out of his mouth, and waiting for him to drop the eye patch bomb on me.
Well apparently they’ve made some leaps forward in the treatment of lazy eye in the past few decades, and while an eye patch is still an accepted treatment, it’s not the only one. He actually recommended that we put Cameron into glasses. This would correct the far sighted issues he was still having, and hopefully work to correct his lazy eye as well. So in June of last year, Cameron got his very first pair of glasses. And as you can see, he wasn’t very happy about it.
The doctor wanted to see him back in 3 months to make sure things were progressing in the right direction. We went back in October and while his lazy eye was improving, it was improving less than the doctor had hoped. He scheduled us another appointment for February (which he very awesomely recommended we do after Valentine’s day to ensure that the checkup would count as the Kindergarten eye exam the school district requires) and said if things hadn’t improved enough by then that we would be looking to treat the lazy eye with an eye patch.
So Tuesday was the big day. Matt and I were both a bit anxious about the appointment, not knowing that the doctor was going to say. Yes, an eye patch is a minor thing in the grand scheme of things…but an eye patch on Cameron? Heaven help us. We went through the full exam and (as expected) with his glasses off Cameron could barely read the second line of the chart. Finally at the end of the exam we got the verdict. No eye patch!! And no pirate Cameron. We were thrilled to hear that the glasses were now showing enough improvement that he wanted to continue with the treatment. The loss of the pirate jokes was a bit of a blow, but not having to actually deal with a child wearing an eye patch was a huge relief.
Now we’re back into a holding pattern. The doctor wants to see Cameron back in 6 months, so he’s got his next appointment scheduled for August. In addition, Kaylee will be 3 in October so it’s almost time for her to go again, and Brendan will be due for his yearly checkup in November. Needless to say, we’ll be seeing a whole lot of our eye doctor this year. Good thing I like him so very much.