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I Couldn't Believe This Was Wrong With My Son

The No. 1 thing I did to make my child incredible at art? I took him to the optometrist and found out he had horrible vision. Then, I got him glasses.

He was 4 and had spent most of his life with horrendous vision, which caused him to have headaches, want to sleep more, and gave me a nagging suspicion that something was wrong.

Now though? Now he loves art because he can see.

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My little guy exploring the world that he can now see it.

Think you child doesn't need to go to the eye doctor? Do you know how well he can see? Let me give you five points to make you think about why you really should take your child to an optometrist.

1. Kids don’t know how they are supposed to see

Let that resonate. I recently heard of a story of someone not getting glasses until they were 10 years old. At which point, when she got glasses, she proclaimed, “I thought trees were just green blurs.”

Oh but she was 10, you are silently judging. OK so, here, judge me instead.

I took my 6-year-old to the optometrist. It turned out, he needed glasses to help him see letters better. It’s not a very strong prescription, but it’s not nothing either. I took him on a whim, out of my own concern. My husband noticed he was holding books one inch from his face.

Last summer, I took our 4-year-old boy just to be on the very safe side. No way, I thought, no way will he need glasses. My husband and I have perfect vision.

During the eye exam, I began to panic. It became clear my son could not very well at all. The optometrist and I kept making eye contact, our eyes getting bigger under the mutual understanding that it was a very good thing I was “just being cautious” and bringing my son in.

2. The eye charts on the wall do not cut it

I take my son to a pediatrician. Of course, I do. My son, for 4 ½ years, had been a loving, very high maintenance child. He napped every hour and a half until a little over one. Much like a newborn. I always felt like something was bothering him.

I mentioned this to my pediatrician.

I went to an allergist, a GI, but was never told to have his eyes checked. Most pediatricians don’t tell you to go to an optometrist but ...

3. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggest you get your child's eyes checked at 12 months

My son’s eyes could have been caught at 12 months vs. 4 ½ years old. He could have been saved years of headaches and frustrations. Me, too. We are also glad we brought him in, because we found out one of his eyes was basically giving up. Oddly enough, our pediatrician never suggested we take our children to the optometrist. Yet both of my boys ended up needing glasses at the ages of 6 and 4, and I brought them in on my own prompting.

4. If you do not catch some of these eye conditions by a certain age, they are irreversible.

In the case of my son, if what my son has hadn't been found by the age of 8, he would have had his eye permanently damaged. Now my son wears a patch 3 hours a day over his good eye to make his weaker eye get stronger. He’s proud of his patches. I experimented with many and found these cloth guys off of Etsy and Amazon to be our favorites.

Our pirate.

5. You can make your child’s education so much more enjoyable

While I am a big believer in play with the little ones, my 4-year-old complained that art was so hard his first year of pre-school. I emailed his teacher and said Rhodes is complaining about art, do you make him do it? She was surprised to hear him say that. Now, knowing that he just was struggling so much to see, I now know why art was “so hard.” He now loves making art.

I have heard countless stories of kids struggling unnecssarely all due to not having glasses. I have talked extensively to my optometrist and the people in his office. He said he even sees teenagers come in. Teens who have struggled with their grades all due to not being able to see.

I know, what is this? 1815?

No, it is 2015, but for some reason we are not being pushed to go to the optometrist.

Take your baby between 12 months to a year and a half. After that, it’s harder to test them until they are 3 (think: sitting still and a toddler). Of course, if you suspect something even if they are a toddler, take them in.

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Look, I’m no doctor, I’m not even a nurse. I’m horrible at science and math, but I am a mom with two boys who needed glasses all based on my mom intuition. Once I was blown away by this I started talking to my doctor and the optometrist and his office.

It’s just kind of weird.

Images by Lindsay Kavet

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