Confession of an Optometrist
Vision and learning – my story!
Aged 10, I had always been one of the “clever” students in school. Aged 11. my grades were slipping, I was falling behind other students in my class, was having difficulty staying focussed and was struggling to pass tests I would have aced before. The reason? Increasing shortsightedness and astigmatism meant I couldn’t see the board, was taking longer to read, needed to hold my books almost up to my face and could barely read the expression on my teacher’s face.
I knew my vision was poor but didn’t want to wear glasses. However when my cover was finally blown by the public health nurse, and I was made to get the dreaded spectacles, it was a relief to finally have my world in focus. My grades improved dramatically again.
If a child is struggling in school, it is vital to rule out problems with vision. But not all problems will be picked up in a school screening. A child may have excellent distance vision but be unable to focus up close or may have difficulty with eye movements which slow down reading and impact on the ability of the child to keep up with his or her peers.
An inability to make both eyes point in the same direction can make the words appear to jump on the page. A full eye examination by an optometrist who specialises in children’s vision will uncover problems like these.
It is gratifying as an optometrist to be told that a child in your care has come on in “leaps and bounds” in school since getting their new spectacles. And I do envy today’s children the lovely frames available to them, with characters like Hannah Montana and Sponge Bob all bringing out their own trendy ranges. It is important that the frame should fit well; a badly fitting frame will be uncomfortable and will cause it’s own problems. We are lucky in Mairead O’Learys to have excellent dispensing opticians who will check the frame to make sure it is a good fit as well as being super-cool!
Sometimes glasses on their own are not enough and a child may benefit from Behavioural Optometry or Vision Therapy to enable them to learn to use their eyes efficiently. Having become interested in this area some years ago, I now run a small clinic, specifically for children with learning difficulties. Most do improve after a few sessions, including home exercises to do between sessions.
If your child is having difficulties in school, please contact us in Blanchardstown to arrange a full eye examination.
Orla MacNaeidhe Optometrist F.A.O.I.