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Does your child really need glasses? In my case – no he didn’t. This is how I found out.

I had no idea about how glasses worked or how they even prescribe them, and it’s taken me a while to get my head round it all, but what I found out could save someone’s child being wrongly prescribed glasses in sha Allah.

About a year ago now I was told to take my then 3yr old to the opticians as he was squinting slightly when watching TV. I initially thought that he was just pulling his thinking face but thought to be on the safe side anyway.

Afer being tested at the orthoptist they found that he had problems looking in the distance and that one of his eyes was slightly slower. I had a feeling that he was just tired that day, but when he was further tested by the ophthalmologist who does the refraction test with all the different lenses – they found him to be long sighted with astigmatism. It made sense as glasses and astigmatism run in the family, I just felt like he was too young and his eyes were still developing.

So I asked if I could have a 6 month period until he was 4 to try improving his eyesight in other ways. A very reluctant and offended orthoptist was wary about the eye exercises I proposed and thought that it would be too hard to accomplish with kids, house etc. It wouldn’t have been hard if I had been more organised, but the truth is I mainly just lowered screentime, used rose water and eye bright on eyelids, made duaa and didn’t do too many eye exercises as planned – 6 months later, on a dark rainy winter’s afternoon, he again found difficulty matching the small pictures at a distance once again. The orthoptist concluded:

“You’ve had a good go mum but you see there just isn’t any evidence that we can improve the sight by anything other than glasses. I’m very open minded but I just don’t think it works.”

I have to say the lady was beyond patronising, not only related to me how another lady had gone in all guns blazing saying the glasses industry was a conspiracy, and that the only reason she would entertain me was because I was more polite!? It was a bit bizarre, I felt that she was getting too personally involved in fear that I would not let my son wear glasses if he needed – which wasn’t the case at all.

Another ophthalmologist did a refraction test and it seemed the long sightedness and astigmatism had increases quite a lot in 6 months. I was also later to find out that the reason being is because these test results can vary from Dr to dr, and the only reason he was actually prescribed the glasses was due to his performance in the picture matching test- the refraction test was just to determine the prescription – which if can vary significantly from doctor to doctor- is not all that reliable.

After a week or so of wearing them, he was complaining that everything in the distance was blurry and he still had headaches. After very half heartedly persevering with them, alhamdulillah another orthoptist tested his vision after a few months. She was a more relaxed doctor, it was earlier on in the day, he wasn’t tired and she gave him a VERY LONG TIME to get the answer right and reassure him that it didn’t matter if it was wrong. He was more relaxed, even enjoyed the pictures and letters test – not to mention the fact that he was more confident with which letters were which now that he’s 4 as opposed to 3!

At the end of it – she said he doesn’t need glasses- he had passed the test they do for reception kids, and yes he did struggle a bit but that’s normal as children’s eye sight is STILL developing at this age. So a year on of tests and trials and worries and research and it turns out he doesn’t need them after all – Qadar Allah. The refraction test does not supersede the performance test – this came to my surprise.

She did reiterate that if he hadn’t established proper vision to be able to pass the test (with or without glasses) before the age of 7- then say at the age of 10 if he wanted to wear glasses understanding that he couldn’t see properly – the glasses would not improve his vision – that’s why they rush to get glasses on children I guess, as if there is a problem then at least if the child can see properly with the glasses before the age of 7, it ensures that later on in life the glasses will always work. Whether he chooses to wear them or not is up to him but at least he has the choice! If children need glasses and that vision is not established in the brain before the age of 7 – apparently the glasses won’t work afterwards. That’s what I’ve been told – wa Allahu Alam.

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