Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Specs for Andre - carrots don't help!

Today, we brought Andre to the optometrist and alas, he needs glasses (those darn computer games!) In March, he was diagnosed with myopia but only 25 degrees, so we put off making the specs. In six months, it has shot up to 100 degrees. Makes you wonder how he managed to see the whiteboard in class. (Hmm... might explain why he keeps "forgetting" his teacher's instructions.)

We were trying to hold off for as long as we can. Afterall, Kenneth has perfect eyesight (even though he spent his childhood glued to the tv). I, on the other hand, was blind as a bat. Not any more, thanks to the miracle called Lasik! The first week after I got "Lasiked", I kept walking around in a state of wonder, annoying everyone around me by saying "hey, I can see the time! I can see right over there! I can see in the dark!" I was still instinctively pushing up the non-existent specs on the bridge of my nose, a habit cultivated from almost three decades of myopia.

Anyway, both our kids went to the ophthalmologist to check for myopia, something I highly recommend to all parents. You might think that it's a simple procedure, checking if a kid is short-sighted, any optician should be able to do so, right? WRONG. When Lesley-Anne was in P1, I suspected she was myopic as she kept squinting in front of the tv. When we did a basic eye check at the GP (using the usual eye chart), she was not able to read some of the letters that a regular 6/6 should.

However, since Kenneth had an ex-schoolmate who was an ophthalmologist at the Singapore National Eye Centre, we thought we should just do a proper check. Thank God we did. Lesley-Anne was found, surprisingly, not to be short-sighted but slightly long-sighted, which according to the doc, was normal for kids her age as the eyeballs are still developing. She didn't have to wear glasses and managed to maintain this until end of last year when at her annual check at SNEC, she was finally found to have myopia. If she had just gone to an optician at P1, she most definitely would have been prescribed glasses, which would have caused the degree to rise every year. As it was, we managed to delay it for five years. Today, she's only about 75 degrees myopic.

The difference is in the diagnostic tests. At the optician's, they rely on the eye chart and the machine where you rest your chin and they look into your eyes. Apparently, this alone is not very accurate especially for very young kids. At the eye doc, they do these two tests first, then they dilate the pupils and do another series of eye chart tests. This is so that the eye muscles are relaxed and the true vision can be checked.

In March, when Andre had finished the first two tests, I thought he was a goner as he couldn't even see the very large letters. The preliminary result was that he was short-sighted by about 100 degrees. Then after the dilation and final tests, he was found to be only 25 degrees myopic. The doc explained that the muscles in his eyeballs contract involuntarily, making him seem more short-sighted than he actually is. Again, I would never have found this out at an optician's. Makes me wonder how many young kids were put in glasses at an early stage when they didn't really need them!

Anyhow, Andre really needs glasses this time and I can predict that it's going to be a hassle making him look after them. I had a coupon from a magazine for a $49.90 pair of glasses from Optic Point and we went straight there to make them, with the prescription from SNEC. When choosing the frames, the guy at the shop was saying we could top up the difference if we wanted a more expensive frame and I kept insisting "I'm not topping up! We'll choose from the available price range." Knowing Andre, the glasses have a high likelihood of being broken, bent or lost within a month. And from experience, he'll need new glasses with higher degrees within six months anyway, so he's just getting the basic! I'm a cheap mum! Doesn't he look just like Chicken Little in this pic?

My new nickname for him, inspired by one of his favourite Ben 10 characters "Four Arms", is "Four Eyes". He thinks it's hilarious.

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