Thursday, May 15, 2008

Mommy, I'm Done With Glasses

Last Monday I took my almost-three-year-old to the optometrist. About six months ago I began to see him go cross-eyed. Over time it became more obvious until three months ago I took him to the pediatrician. Due to the complexities of modern health care, the pediatrician had to refer me to an optometrist, who then had to refer me to a pediatric optometrist. After two weeks of calling to make sure all the referrals were properly faxed, I finally learned that the only pediatric optometrist on my HMO is semi-retired and comes to her office on my side of town only on Mondays. The first time she could see my son was eight weeks away.

Now, eight weeks later, in the exam room at last, I sat with my son in my lap while the optometrist ran through a battery of tests. She used prisms to check how much his eyes were crossed, and then had me cover each of his eyes in turn while she tried to get him to track a stuffed toy across his field of view. All the while she kept saying, "Oh yes," in a very serious tone of voice. That made me nervous. Oh yes what? Oh yes, this kid is really messed up?

"So that left eye can turn out, it just doesn't want to," she cooed at my child after she had finished her last test. "He's a little cross-eyed," she told me.

"Well, I'm glad I'm not going crazy. When I first noticed, I started asking all my friends, 'Does he look cross-eyed to you?'" It was true. He crossed his eyes so slightly at first that I wondered if I was imagining it.

They put some eye drops in his eyes and told me to go out and wait in the lobby while his pupils dialated. We had been at the office for almost two hours already, and the child was not about to sit still. I tried to keep him from terrorizing the tropical fish and running out the front door. When I thought I could not take it any longer, they called us back for the last test.

"Oh yes," the doctor said again as she shone her light though a lens and looked in my child's freakily dialated eyes. "He's far-sighted. He needs glasses." She rattled off the prescription to the nurse. Then she explained, "There's an equation in the brain stem that relates focusing to eye alignment," she told me, "If we can correct the focusing, the alignment should go back to normal. Hopefully, with glasses, he'll grow out of it before he's twelve. There's an eighty percent chance the glasses will do the trick."

"Thanks," I said, wondering how I was going to get a two year old to wear glasses. The doctor did not offer any suggestions. I know I should have asked, but I got busy chatting with her about her life and her career and why it is that blue eyes look blue--I've always wondered that.

When I got to the eye glass shop I wished I'd asked. Trying out frames was a disaster. My son would hardly leave them on long enough for me to see how he looked. Finally he tore one pair off and flung it across the room, sending it clattering under the service counter. We were done.

"I don't know how I'm going to keep them on him," I told the woman who was helping me.

"Most kids keep them on once they get their real lenses in. They like being able to see," she assured me.

I was skeptical about this until we went to pick up the glasses. When my son got to try them on his eyes grew big and round with astonishment. He glanced around the room, startled and surprised. A little bubble of joy welled up inside of me. My child could see! I never knew that he couldn't, but now he was seeing the things that were close to him clearly for the very first time in his life.

For the first three hours, he kept the glasses on. I thought my worries that he wouldn't wear them had been completely unfounded. Then he came up to me while I was typing at the computer and handed me his glasses. "Mommy, I'm done with glasses," he declared with decisive finality. I guess he decided that being able to see up close without crossing his eyes was not worth having those things on his face.

A few minutes later, I gently hooked the glasses back on over his ears. He wore them for a while, and then, "Mommy, I'm done with glasses." I thanked him and set them aside, waited a few minutes, then said, "Time for glasses," and put them back on. He accepted this, wore them for a while, and then brought them to me once again, "Mommy, I'm done with glasses."

I know that in a year or so I'll be able to reason with him, but for now I'll just be grateful he hands them to me instead of flinging them across the room.


One Sweet Life said...

So glad they found that and now he can see! :) 80% are pretty good odds to me.

Frozen Cacti said...

Oh. How we LOVE our trips to the Optholmologist. Repeat exactly what happened to you...we've soooo been there. I don't know why they always make little kids wait so blasted long. Pediatricians really ought to know better, right? Hello-don't they cover attention span (or lack there of) in medical school?

However, yea for glasses. Hopefully he will keep them on. Hang in there mom! It'll be worth it.

Cherilyn said...

When I got my first pair of glasses in 6th grade, I did the following in short order: told my social studies teacher I could see all her grey hairs now, popped a huge bubble gum bubble all over my new lenses, and continually played "now I can see it, now I can't."

I still think glasses are a miracle and sometimes amuse myself by looking at something without them on, then putting them on and marveling at how clearly I can suddenly see.