Every time I take my son to a party or soft play area, I seem to find myself inundated with questions about his glasses. It's obviously something that other parents want to know more about so I thought I'd put together a Q&A of the most popular questions.
How did you know he needed glasses?
The answer to this one is I didn't. I noticed that he had a squint as a baby and I always assumed it was just normal but when it hadn't corrected by a year old I took him to the GP who referred us to Sunderland Eye Infirmary for tests.
I was expecting to be told that we needed to patch his eye (common treatment for squints) but when they looked at him, they told me they didn't think his vision was very good and took him straight for an eye test. I was initially really upset when they told me his vision was really bad and needed a prescription of 8.75 in each eye.
Looking back, it all made perfect sense as he struggled with fine motor skills as a baby and never showed any interest in books/small toys. I wish I had acted on my gut instinct earlier now but the health visitor never commented on it and so I convinced myself it wasn't a problem.
If you suspect there is something wrong with your baby/toddler's vision then go to your GP and they will refer you for tests. Maybe one of your child's eyes turns in or they don't seem to focus straight, maybe they struggle with fine motor skills - if they do then don't be afraid to go and get it checked out!
How to they test a baby's eyesight?
I get asked this so frequently and I'm not an expert but here is how I think it works. Firstly they put some drops in the eyes to dilate the pupils and wait 20-30 minutes for the pupils to dilate.
The optician then looks into the eye and uses what can only be described as a ruler with different strength prescriptions on it. By looking through each prescription and finding the one that allows them to see through to the back of the eye clearly - it tells them which prescription is needed to correct the lens in the eye. This is how I THINK it works from speaking to my optician but I could be wrong on all the technical points. However it works, it is completely painless and doesn't take long at all and not in the slightest bit distressing for the baby.
Why do you patch the eye?
We haven't had to patch his eye for months now but initially we used to patch his strong eye for 2 hours a day. This was done because he wasn't using his weaker eye anymore as he could only focus by using one eye and so naturally switched off the weak eye. By patching the strong eye for a couple of hours a day it forced him to use his weak eye again and build up the muscles in it.
We patched for about a year in total. During this year we went for six weekly check-ups as when patching you need to monitor that it doesn't start affecting the other eye. As soon as they could see that he was using both eyes equally then we stopped patching.
Patching itself never really bothered him; he soon got used to the routine of wearing a patch for a couple of hours in a morning. We used to put it on to send him to nursery as he was always busy there in the morning so easily distracted by other things.
His eye still turns in when he isn't wearing glasses and it most probably always will do but by using the correct prescription glasses, he is now able to focus and use both eyes equally so the squint is barely noticeable.
How do you get him to keep his glasses on?
I think we were extremely lucky in a strange way that his vision was so bad. Within an hour of him getting his glasses on, he realised that life was 1000 times better with them on and has never really taken them off himself.
We tend to have issues with other children pulling them off him and when he is having a strop he will throw them off but he quickly realises that it was a silly thing to do and goes and puts them back on again.
He is currently 2 years 9 months and the first thing he wants when he wakes up is his glasses. If they come off then he will put them back on himself and if they slip down his nose he will push them back up again.
If you aren't having any luck with keeping glasses on your child then all I can recommend is that you keep persevering with it. It's for their own good and if you just calmly keep putting them back on, eventually they will understand. I spoke to one parent who said her child's glasses just live in her handbag as she can't get them to keep them on - giving up isn't an option, keep trying!
How often does he break his glasses?
When we first got his glasses we got a prescription for a spare pair as well. I'd say the most common problem we have is that the glasses get bent or the nose pads fall off. These are usually fixed at the opticians whilst you wait. We've only had to have them properly fixed two to three times in two years as they are pretty sturdy glasses.
The great thing about the NHS is that the glasses are free and so if they break you don't have to pay for repairs so it doesn't really matter. You just turn up at the opticians hand over the broken pair and use your spare pair until they are fixed.
Can you get nice glasses for children?
Well, people have never asked me this directly, they just tend to comment that his glasses are really nice. The range of glasses available for young children is huge with everything from lego designs to princesses. There really is something to appeal to all children and they look lovely. Gone are the days of standard issue NHS glasses with bottle lenses. Glasses are seen as a fashion accessory nowadays!
He has very thick lenses in his glasses as his prescription is so strong (it's unlikely that you would come across thicker lenses) but even they look good in his glasses and they don't make his eyes look huge or silly either. We did pay £30 to have the lenses thinned a little in his latest pair as we now know that they will last a while and it is worth paying for them to be thinned.
You only need to look at the photo above to see just how great children can look in glasses.
I live in Durham with my wonderful husband MrB and my beautiful daughter MissB and the most recent addition to our family MasterB.
We are a family of vegetarians and both our children are being brought up as vegetarian until they are old enough to choose for themselves.
Blogs at: Knees Up Mother Brown