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.
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.