Does My Child Need Her Eyes Checked?
I always want to share what's going on with my 6-year-old daughter. As soon as I found out I was pregnant with her, I was thrilled! And from the moment her chubby little body was placed in my arms, she's been an absolute dream.
We chose to not find out her gender before she was born, which made her arrival that much more exciting. (It's something I highly suggest!) I also chose to not have an epidural, which made made her delivery quite an adventure (but we'll save that story for another time). 6 1/2 years later, my baby still has those same chubby cheeks, lots of long dark hair, and an imagination that can compete with the best.
As I've mentioned before, she was also born with hereditary hearing loss--a challenge that has kept us both busy and humble. She's managed appointments to the audiologist, speech therapists, and administration like a pro. Plus, she's impressively responsible when it comes to taking care of her hearing aids and advocating for herself.
As if hearing loss wasn't enough, we recently found she had some issues with her vision as well. For years we have noticed that she squints out of the corner of her eyes, as if she prefers to look at you with her head slightly turned. She did it when looking at screens, too. Our first visit to the optometrist resulted in nothing too concerning, as she was still quite young. But at a recent follow-up visit she was diagnosed with convergence inconsistency. What does that even mean? Basically, her pretty brown eyes don't like to work together. This makes it hard for her to focus on pretty much everything--books, homework, the whiteboard, even her awesome mom.
After leaving that appointment, I started thinking about how sometimes we poor moms just have no idea how to determine if something is not working properly with our kids' eyes. How do we know if something is off? When do reach out to an optometrist? To help us all out, I've come up with a short list of things to look for:
- Squinting: Squinting temporarily helps eyes focus, so if your child is squinting a lot, it means he or she is having trouble focusing normally. This could be a sign that his/her eyes need help.
- Headaches/ Eye Pain: This could mean your child is working extra hard to see and is over-exerting his/her eyes.
- Watching screens from a very close distance: If your child wants to sit really close to the TV when watching, or if he/she holds a screen right up to his/her face, it could mean their vision is struggling.
- Head tilting/Covering one eye: This helps them eliminate double vision and could often be an indicator of lazy eye.
- Trouble Concentrating: Often when children find they can't visually focus on what's going on in front of them, their little minds tend to wander. This can get misinterpreted as a learning disability such as ADHD, and it can be frustrating for both the children and teachers/parents.
There were a few of those warning signs that stood out to us. The biggest was that my daughter was falling slightly behind in school. As much as I'd like to blame it on COVID, masks, or even her hearing loss, I knew there had to be something more. It was just so hard to keep her focused.
So where does that leave us? We're currently trying to decide if vision therapy is the route we'll take. It will mean six months of weekly therapy sessions with "homework" assigned daily. This process is expensive and time-consuming, but often these roadblocks help me refocus (no pun intended) on what matters most. And right now, it's getting my little daughter all the extra help she needs to grow up to be successful and confident.
Disclaimer: I am certainly not a doctor and have no medical experience besides being super efficient at putting on Band-aids and pulling ice packs out of the freezer. Please refer to your local physician if you suspect your child needs additional care!