The Life Changing (and Free) Eye Exam for Kids

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Since the fourth grade, I’ve worn glasses. I was one of only a few kids in my school at that time who had glasses, and I still remember the teasing I received for having them. I was eager for the moment I could wear contacts, no matter how much they hurt my eyes when I put them in the first time. To this day, I still wear contacts, and probably will forever because I don’t have enough confidence to get Lasik surgery.

Fast-forward to 2013 when I had infant twins. There was (and still is!) a great program called InfantSEE, where children between the ages of 6-12 months can receive a free eye exam at select optometrists. Knowing my eye history, and my husband’s who also needed corrective lenses, we felt it would be best for the twins to have an infant eye exam.

Both girls had OK results for their first eye exam with a recommendation to come back when they were two. At two years old, they were still fine, with a recommendation to come back at three, then four years old. During their four-year-old appointment is when we were hit with the news that both girls should get glasses. I didn’t get glasses until I was nine, and my husband was older than that when he needed his first pair. Why were the girls getting glasses now? I felt ashamed, even though I knew there was nothing I could do about it.

The girls have grown into their own with their glasses. They are fortunate to have several classmates with glasses, too, so they don’t have the feeling of being outcasted like I did.

When our son was born, we took him into the eye doctor as part of the InfantSEE program, too. I had noticed his one eye seemed a little off center but didn’t think much of it. The optometrist told us to come back in six months – OK, no problem. At the next appointment, it was recommended that he needed glasses. I was shocked. He was 13 months old at the time — why did my baby need glasses now? I didn’t believe the recommendation to the extent that I went and got a second opinion.

The new doctor said the same thing. I was full of guilt. I felt like I had passed a horrible condition onto my child and he would be stereotyped differently for the rest of his life. No one would know him other than, “the baby who wears glasses.”

To top this all off, my son hates his glasses. He hates being restrained in general, and I’m sure that’s one of the reasons he does not enjoy wearing his glasses. As he has gotten older, he has gotten more accustomed to wearing his glasses, but there are still several times where he throws his glasses on the ground and doesn’t want to have anything to do with them.

Even though I know I shouldn’t, I still feel guilty as anyone who sees my children for the first time will usually comment on the fact that they all have glasses. However, I also know that taking part in a program like InfantSEE has made a significantly positive impact on the overall eye care of my children.

Learn more about the InfantSEE program here.