The eyes have it

People who don’t wear glasses or contacts freak me out. My sister just got glasses this year. My sister in law only has to wear them for night driving. My father didn’t get glasses until he was well into his 40s, and that was mainly for reading. My husband’s prescription is so weak that I can put his glasses on over my contacts and there is almost no change. He rarely even wears his contacts.

I did not inherit the good eye genes. In my world of terrible vision (that apparently gets better with each pregnancy, but that is not enough reason for me to have another child, thank you), I find it hard to believe that people have made it clean to adulthood before they ever needed any type of vision correction. I’m the person who has to locate her glasses before taking out her contacts. I was 10 when I got my first pair of huge, 80s plastic frames — blue on blue speckles because I was awesomely cool back then, and it wasn’t long before I realized that glasses weren’t as cool as I had made them out to be in my head. Then at 16 my mom finally let me get contacts, and I felt the way lasik patients must feel today. I can see! And there are no ugly, crooked frames on my face! And hooray peripheral vision!

I’ve always hoped my kids would inherit my husband’s eye health. But then I gave birth to 31 week preemies, and game? Consider yourself changed. Preemies are at risk of developing retinopathy of prematurity, meaning that when born too early, the blood vessels that develop from the retina around the eye may develop too slowly or not at all. Think of it this way: the retina is in the back of the eye, and the blood vessels grow from the retina and spread themselves around the eyeball. Look in the mirror. See those blood vessels? Those are the ones.

So Rachel and Claire had their first eye appointment within just a few days of being in the NICU, and I actually wasn’t even there to see it. But they got a thumbs up from the eye doctor, who wanted to see them again at 3 months.

And this is when I was glad I wasn’t there for the first appointment.

Do you have any idea how they perform an eye exam on a tiny baby?

Forcefully, that’s how. I had to sit in the chair with my infant on my lap while the doctor wretched her eye open with this Clockwork Orange type contraption so she could see in and examine the growth of her blood vessels. Twice, because there were two of them. Make that four times, because they each have two eyes, OH THE NERVE.

preemie eye health vsp
Can you see me now?

It was rough, y’all. But they each got another thumbs up, and we scheduled a follow up for one year of age, and I dreaded it with all my might, because the wretching! The forcing open of the eyes on the tiny babies! The crying of said tiny babies! I made my husband go with me so he too could witness and partake in the trauma.

And then the doctor flashed a flashlight in my one year old babies’ eyes, claimed their eye health was coming along nicely, and we were really at low risk for ROP. It was terribly anticlimactic and very un-Clockwork Orange-ish.

We were due for eye exams again at the 4 year well check, and that went swimmingly, if by swimmingly you mean complete disaster, 3:1 kid to mom ratio, lots of distraction, no that’s not a pirate patch, and no looking at the eye chart, not even a little bit. It was swell, and I was comforted by the fact that the nurse said eye exams at this age are pretty touch and go, only with no actual touch and all go. Really, my kids could be half blind, and how would I know? They’re apparently pretty deaf based on how often they listen to me.

Given my history of eye degradation and my twins’ early start in life, regular eye exams are going to be the norm, not just when we start to see a problem. I definitely don’t want them to be the kids who have to squint to see the board, or worse — come up to the front of the class because they can’t see. I hope that they don’t need glasses too early in life, but it’ll probably happen eventually.

I’ll just be careful to steer them clear of the blue on blue speckled plastic frames.

preemie eye health vsp
[Insert heavily edited but possibly not quite enough iPhone self portrait of my sexy glasses here]

Visit SeeMuchMore for more information about VSP and vision care benefits. I was selected for this post by the Clever Girls Collective, and all opinions expressed are my own.

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  1. Right there with you! Glasses in 2nd grade, blind as a bat, and Troy just started needing reading glasses. Unfortunately both boys have my eyes. At the girls 4 year old well check, we were told to go see an eye doctor for a follow up. They didn’t do so well. Not looking forward to it.

    1. When I called to get their eye test “results” for school, they said they just kind of brush it off because it’s so hard to get them to actually complete the test at 4. But given their history, I know I should take them back to the eye dr.

    1. Contacts are great. I dream of Lasik. Your glasses look great on you and are a part of who you are! Mine never have been.

  2. I can’t even sit still for the glaucoma test. Seriously, sit here and look at this and any second now we will puff air into your eye. I can’t, and I tried contacts at the eye Dr. and it took me about an hour to get the darn thing out.

  3. I started wearing glasses when I was, like, 12? Maybe? And then got contacts in middle school, which was awesome. Except my eye sight kept getting worse and worse, until college, when wearing my thick special contacts for an entire day was torture. They’d be totally fogged over and I’d have to take them out and rinse them off to even drive myself home. But after I had my second baby, I got Lasik (cue singing angels!). BEST. MONEY. I. EVER. SPENT. Two of my brothers (the two of the three that had to wear glasses) had already had it….one was my BABY brother, and hell if I was going to not do it when my baby brother did it.

    I don’t think my kids have a chance either, though. All three of the parents involved (ha!! and by that I mean, me and two different fathers) have/had eye problems.

  4. My daughter’s four year old eye exam was a riot, as well. I can’t imagine it times two! My husband is nearly blind without contacts. I have a astigmatism for which I should wear glasses but since having them eaten by the dog, I pretty much squint through life, I really need new glasses.

    1. It’s so hard to bite the bullet and get new ones! Mine are crooked and the protective coating has all peeled off. I only wear them when I have major contact problems.

  5. I feel ya! I got glasses at 9 and my “butterfly transformation” with contacts at 13. 🙂
    My husband has perfect vision, so I am praying for that for my son! I am way too chicken to get Lasik…

  6. I didn’t get glasses until after my kid was born and so I’m still learning about life with glasses. My husband had Lasix years ago, so, like you, I’m hoping my kid makes it without needing them!

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