You know what’s in an eye exam. You stood 20 feet away, or where the nurse told you to, and rattled off letters until you were cleared. So what’s really in an eye exam? What’s all the fuss? Why do we make it an annual family trip? What takes so long and what do they do? I am here to take you behind the scenes and explain what’s really in an eye exam.
We make an annual family trip four hours away to Philadelphia every year. We travel that far to visit the Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia and our amazing Pediatric Ophthalmologist Dr. Monte Mills. I love this hospital, our team, and our head doctor. We have never had a reason to complain about the quality of care or service. They also are family oriented, always allot space for our stroller, and don’t mind that we have another child. It makes a long visit much easier.
We don’t start with our head doctor. We see multiple doctors and specialists. They check Ollie’s eyes for turn in, astigmatism, near and far vision. As an infant and toddler each check took an hour or so. The doctors would have to check each eye with each tool, lense, or light individually and chart the results. This was time consuming and intensive.
Now that Ollie has words and understands shapes and colors he can show them what he sees and respond accordingly. It was exciting to watch Ollie respond and show us what he could see. It was also a very hopeful visit for the future.
After the first doctor’s examination, Ollie had his eyes dilated. This means a 30 minute wait back in the waiting area. This is probably the hardest part for the children. After proper dilation, it’s time for our second doctor. She does the main work up that our head doctor uses for Oliver’s prescription and narrows down his field of vision.
This is another hour as she checks each eye with a series of lenses and lights. We used to have to hold Oliver down during this part because the lights hurt with his pupils dilated. This year he was excited to sit by himself and show them what he saw. He helped hold up the lenses and pointed to the lights as the doctor searched.
Doctor Mills is always the last part of the evaluation. He comes in and does a quick confirmation of the lenses and gives us an overview. He will confirm what early intervention or deficits Ollie has and give his prognosis for care for the next year. He always warns us that Oliver is still legally blind.
Last year his prognosis was that Oliver would need to learn braille and that we should prepare him with pre-braille concepts to get him ready for school. We were also told that he wouldn’t be a dual reader and would need a white cane.
From two weeks old we’ve known Oliver would never drive, would need braille, would use a white cane. This visit we learned that his right eye has weakened and grown astigmatism while his left eye has strengthened. He is able to read at a 20/250 range and may even correct to a 20/150 by next year.
For the first time since he was born we have hope that he may actually be allowed to drive. The new prognosis puts on emphasis on adaptive technology. We were told to delay braille and focus on primary reading. We were even shown what range he can see at when he brings objects close to his eyes.
This visit is worth the travel for my family because we learn extensively about how Oliver sees. We learn what he struggles with and have a team of amazing professionals that offer their advice in how to proceed for the next year. I believe they are a critical part to the success of our overall team. I credit them with the foundation of Oliver’s education and his continued services.
Fortunately our Early Intervention services team is professional, listen to our input, and really get Ollie’s needs. We have a strong team and that is why this past year has been one of growth. Our son is blossoming and we are hopeful for a future that is more inclusive for him.
To see more of Meet The Blind please visit the Special Needs Page.