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Why Eye Tests For Children Are Important

Why Eye Tests For Children Are Important

Up until it was suggested that I went to Vision Express to have my 3 year old's eyes tested, taking Harry for an eye test was something I had only thought about fleetingly.

It was something that I ‘needed to get done at some point.'

I knew my children would need to have their eyes ‘checked' one day...... no hurry, really. But what is more important than your children's eyes? It was finding out that, Luke, one of Harry's little friends, had very poor eyesight which galvanised me into making the appointment. The signs were perhaps there, but nobody's first instinct was to attribute any of them to his eyes. His endearing clumsiness suddenly took on a whole new meaning. For Luke, everything was literally a blurred blob. For those who understand these things, his eyes are -11 which means he is extremely short-sighted!

The good news is that Luke now has glasses and can accomplish far more and, more importantly, begin to catch up on all the things he had missed out on previously. But what if his mum had been a little more like me and delayed taking him for an eye test? How long would it have taken before his poor eyesight became really obvious? And to what extent would this have affected his development? With this realisation came the necessary kick I needed to do something which was really important. Take Harry for an eye test.

As any parent of a three year old, I would imagine, I had concerns

Harry having an eye test

regarding how well he would take to it all and wondered whether I would even be able to get him to sit still for long enough. I needn't have worried.

When we arrived at Vision Express we were met and taken through for our pre-test examination. Basically, you put your chin on a rest and they take a photo of the back of your eye. Harry loved it! Not only did he picture himself being inside a spaceship but on the computer appeared a photo of a moon! Yes it was his eye… and I did, trying to be a ‘good' mum, explain what it was a picture of, but he was having none of it! It was a moon and, quite frankly, I was being a bit daft to suggest otherwise.

Next was the eye check. This was, in fact, a very quick process, only lasting about 10 minutes. The main test, which usually entails reading letters from a board, was completed using pictures of a dog, a bird, a fish and flower – all words Harry knew. This was completed with no problems at all. For some of the test, to his joy, he was even allowed to wear funny glasses. And there was another chin rest

machine, allowing him to once more enter the world of spaceships!
Child-friendly does not really describe adequately how well Harry was looked after during his eye-test. The optometrist, David Magner, explained everything to him in a simple and gently off- the-cuff way so nothing was a big deal or in the slightest way scary. It also helped that he seemed well versed in the ways of Woody and Buzz! As he was carrying out the examination, he explained children's eyes to me and interestingly, I learnt that all children begin life long-sighted and this is corrected as their eyes grow. However, more importantly, I began to realise how vital having an eye test in the early years is, so that eye-related health problems can be prevented later in life. They can also flag up more serious eye conditions, including retinoblastoma, a rare form of childhood eye cancer. Why had I left it so long?

During our visit, I also had my eyes tested and Gary, who carried out all the paperwork, amazingly, after years of disasters, managed to

Harry in Vision Express

find me a pair of glasses that I wear willingly. I am forever in his debt! He was equally brilliant with Harry, chatting away to him and finding him colouring activities to keep him occupied. As Harry said just after we left, ‘He's a nice man isn't he?'

In short, a job I had put off, thinking it would all be a bit of a nightmare, turned out to be very simple and painless. Harry had had an adventure and I left having one fewer thing to remember to do and to worry about.

His eyes were, thankfully, completely fine but I can't help wondering what would have happened if they weren't and I hadn't.

One thing I know. As soon as my younger daughter can talk, I will be taking her. After all, what could be more important than your children's eyes?

by
Sarah Wenn – Mum to Harry 3 and Caitlin 18 months
October 2011

Sarah & Harry went to the Vision Express shop in Churchill Square, Brighton.

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