Today I need to tell you a story.
It's all about how sometimes life can move too quickly and you may miss one of those “this is important -- PAY ATTENTION” moments.
They don't all scream out at you like that, otherwise we wouldn't overlook them, right.
But this was a biggie -- and it had an impact on my child's health.
It all started when a note came home from my daughter’s teacher –
“Please do a little practice with telling time at home this week.”
It didn’t really surprise me. I would often ask my daughter to check the clock as we were getting ready for school and she didn’t always identify the correct time.
So, we sat down one afternoon to practice.
Me: If the big hand is on the 6 and the little hand is between the 3 and 4, what time is that?
I asked her a number of those questions without using a clock and she answered them all correctly.
Next, I asked her to look at the clock on the wall and tell me the time. The big hand was in fact near the 6 and the little hand between the 3 and 4 –
6:15 was her answer.
So I asked, “Do you really think it can be almost dinnertime?"
She said no and we talked it through again.
Over the next few days, I asked her to look at the clock in our kitchen (which is an analog clock) and tell me the time. She was never able to tell me the correct time.
It began to get a little frustrating for both of us. My only thought was that she needed all the little lines they showed on the worksheets to tell the minutes and our clock didn't have those lines.
Then one afternoon, as we were once again staring at the clock, I said “Can’t you see that the big hand is on the 9?”
And she said “no”
That was it – just one little word.
“What do you mean no?”
“No Mama, I don’t see the big hand there.”
“Well, where do you see it pointing?”
“I don’t see the big hand anywhere.”
You know those gut-wrenching times in your life when everything around you goes quiet and you can’t quite believe what you just heard.
After prodding a little longer and asking her to look at other things around the house, I realized that she needed to see an eye doctor.
I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me to have her eyes checked before this point. I mean, we see the dentist twice a year and the pediatrician for yearly appointments. So why not the eye doctor?
I tried to make myself feel a little better -- they checked her eyes in school each year so this couldn't have been going on for too long (I hoped!).
We called and got an appointment and sure enough, she needed glasses. I was relieved that her vision didn’t seem to be too bad. So we ordered her new glasses but they wouldn’t be in until after our vacation.
Bricks, Leaves and Elk
We headed off on vacation to Rocky Mountain National Park knowing that the glasses would be waiting when we returned.
On our first day, we were viewing a huge herd of elk and my husband commented “there’s a cow over there in the trees” – cow being the term for a female elk. Later that night as I tucked my daughter into bed, we were naming all the animals we saw that day and she said “Don’t forget about the cow Mama”. I told her that the cow was an elk and we had already mentioned elk.
“No Mama, the cow Daddy saw in the trees”
“That was an elk, honey. Just like the others but without any antlers. Did you think it was a cow as in the ones that go mooo?”
“I didn’t know because I couldn’t see it.”
This is where I stopped and asked myself, how long has she not been able to see the world around her?
So I tucked her in and told her when we got her glasses next week, she would be able to see all these cool thing.
I kissed her goodnight…
… and quickly went into the other room so she wouldn't see me cry.
Because how could I not have noticed this?! Seriously, how many other things did this affect?
Was this the reason she walked into the corners of walls around the house? Was it the reason she didn’t always say ‘hi’ to the neighbors when they were out in their yard?
The following week, we got her glasses and the first thing she noticed were the bricks on the building. It wasn't just a big red building, it was made up of small rectangles. And she saw the details of the leaves on the trees.
And I promised myself that I would tell others about this experience!
Kids don't always understand when something isn't quite right. They don't know that their eyesight can change.
And they don't always have the words to describe what they experience -- my daughter didn't understand what 'blurry' meant. She had not idea that she should be able to clearly see the hands on the clock.
What We Learned about Eye Care
Obviously, we learned that it's important to have the kids see the eye doctor every year. The eye checks they receive at school are a start but they really need regular exams for their eyes.
Did you know that regular eye exams can detect early signs of diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol?
And here's a statistic I should have paid more attention to --
1 in 4 children has an undetected vision condition that can negatively impact learning
Some of the common signs you might notice in kids that may indicate a vision problem include:
- head tilting,
- avoiding “close work,”
- trouble focusing,
- continuous rubbing of eyes,
While my daughter never showed any of these signs, she was struggling with some things in school that seemed to be out of character for her.
Another lesson learned -- glasses can be expensive.
We didn't have any eye coverage at the time and it's not something you can wait to do -- if your child needs glasses, you suck it up and find the money.
But there is a way to be prepared for times like these - you can be proactive with your child's eye care!
All families have access to vision care coverage through VSP Vision Care.
VSP Vision Care is the nation's largest vision service provider. They offer affordable family eye care coverage with a network of 30,000 doctors across the country. You can choose your provider from a long list and they offer a huge variety of eyewear for everyone in the family.
VSP also has some super online resources for kids -- coloring pages, a storybook about what to expect during your first visit and details about how to take care of your glasses.
So as your kids are completing homework this year, please keep these details in mind.
If the kids haven't had their eyes examed in the last year, make an appointment for them soon! Believe me, it will give you piece of mind as a parent to know you're keeping them healthy.
We were just fitted for a new pair of glasses right before the school year began. During our annual exam, the doctor noticed some changes in her vision and it was great to know she would be starting school on the right foot.
And she no longer has any issues telling time either ;)
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.