At a recent check-up, our pediatrician said something came up on my son’s vision screening. “It’s probably nothing, but you might want to see a specialist to be sure.” I made an appointment for the following week.
Well, “it’s probably nothing” quickly turned into “definitely something.”
It turns out that my 5-year-old has a significant vision impairment. From what I could piece together from the big words the ophthalmologist was using, Micah is far-sighted in one eye and near-sighted in the other eye. The result is that his brain is constantly on overload trying to merge the blurry images together. He wrote up a prescription for bifocals and suggested we get them as soon as possible. Micah was so exhausted from the appointment that he dozed off in the car as I drove him to school.
As a parent, I was shocked that we could have missed something so significant. Shock quickly turned to shame as I realized that we had actually enjoyed, nay, celebrated that he was still taking two-hour naps most days. My husband and I rolled our eyes and sighed every time he knocked over his cup at the dinner table, imploring him to be more careful next time. We had been investigating occupational therapists because his teachers reported that he protested activities that required cutting and was behind his peers on writing letters. Now we were piecing together that the naps were a result of his fatigued brain needing to rest from the constant work of making sense of the world, the clumsiness was actually a result of impaired depth perception, and he couldn’t even see the lines that we were asking him to stay within. I felt horrible.
As many of us are when it comes to change, Micah was ambivalent about getting glasses. Our family went all-in on naming every single person he knew who wore glasses and talking up the benefits that he would reap: “You’ll start reading soon! You’ll be so ready for kindergarten!” You’ll be even better at t-ball!”
I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t want to see better. It was such an easy fix. Then, I realized that he didn’t even know what he was missing. He didn’t know that there was another way to engage with the world. We knew what was possible for him, but he literally couldn’t see it.
As is true for all types of change, we have to acknowledge that the shift requires a leap of faith, trust in the people around us, and a willingness to try something different. Afterall, he didn’t even know that there was anything wrong with the way he was seeing things before.
Fortunately, our positivity full-court press worked. He came around and was eager to pick out frames at the optometrist a few days later. He chose red ones (likely because they matched his t-ball uniform) and he wanted to wear home the pair he tried on at the store. He asked if we could remove the stickers from the lenses so he could see better. We had to break it to him that those were just samples and his actual glasses wouldn’t come in for another few weeks.
I can’t wait to see how things change and open up for Micah once he gets the lenses that are customized for his needs. One relatively simple tool (and an employer-sponsored vision plan) is going to give him a whole new vantage point. He will be able to experience the world as more vibrant, accessible, and engaging. He won't have to struggle unnecessarily or work so hard to keep up. He will be more rested. He will feel more successful and confident. And, all of that just from a little more focus and clarity.
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