A simple eye check-up caught a problem I would never have found and put my daughter back on the learning track

Big thanks to the Doctor’s of Optometry for sponsoring this post.

A simple eye check up makes a difference


Image credit courtesy Flickr cc license.

I almost missed it altogether.

It was one of those weeks — you know how it goes. I was bleary-eyed one morning last fall, pulling out yesterday’s lunches from backpacks in order to make room for today’s. As I reached in and pulled out ever more paperwork to add to the teetering pile I needed to fill out, eventually, a date caught my eye.

There was going to be a routine vision and hearing screening at the school and the forms were due back that very day. I quickly filled out the forms and then I promptly forgot all about it.

My kids could see and hear just fine, I was convinced. I mean, I would KNOW if there was a problem with their eyesight … wouldn’t I? Never mind that my son’s best friend just got glasses after a check-up with the Doctor of Optometry and his parents didn’t suspect a thing. I was sure that I would know. So, I was very surprised when my six-year-old daughter came home a couple of weeks later with with a letter suggesting we follow up with a Doctor of Optometry.

But, guess what? Eye exams for kids with a Doctor of Optometry are fully covered by OHIP (and most other provincial medical plans). So why have we not been doing this all along?

We saw the most wonderful Doctor of Optometry who diagnosed my daughter with an eye muscle imbalance. An eye muscle what? I’d never even heard of it! Basically, her eyes were not moving in sync, causing her to have difficulty focusing on things at close range, and I could suddenly see how it was impacting her learning.

My daughter is a bright girl and a diligent student, but learning to read is a continuing challenge for her. And now, at the very least, the puzzle pieces were starting to come together. The way she’d be able to read the first couple of pages of a storybook fairly well and then suddenly start struggling; how she’d only look at the first letter of a word and then take a guess; how she’d turn her entire body away when I asked her to just follow along with her eyes while I did the reading; and how she was able to read larger font fairly well, but not smaller  — this all made sense now that I understood that is physically difficult for her to focus on the print.

We’ve been working with our Doctor of Optometry for almost a year now, doing exercises called pencil push-ups to strengthen her eye muscles and help her overcome the imbalance. It’s an ongoing process, but I can see a definite improvement. Now that we know what the challenge is, we are able to take the right steps toward correcting it.

But think how close I was to missing this problem altogether. Even if we did end up seeing a Doctor of Optometry the very next year, we would be a year behind diagnosing the problem and a year behind working to help make reading easy for her.

The truth is that we can’t know how well our kids can see. They don’t even know! One in four school-aged children has a vision problem, but many of those are seemingly symptomless. I would never have guessed my daughter had anything wrong with her eyes. Regular check-ups by a Doctor of Optometry are vital.

Also, also, also! There’s a contest you can enter! Until November 9 you can enter the Children’s Vision Month Contest where you have the chance to win the grand prize of $2500 towards an RESP or other educational savings plan, a HP Hybrid laptop, $500 gift card to a top sporting goods store and $300 in goods and services from a Doctor of Optometry (excluding eye exams). There are also weekly prizes to be given away. Good luck!

This post has been brought to you by Doctors of Optometry, but the images and opinions are my own. For more information, please visit http://www.doctorsofoptometry.ca.