Lisa Donaldson, Head of Eyecare and Lead Clinical Optometrist at SeeAbility, spoke to us about some of the common eye care myths she has encountered and whether there is any substance to them.
“I don’t think you’ll be able to test their eyes”
One of the key messages from SeeAbility is that no one is too disabled for an eye test.
This myth stems from our own experience of eye tests. Our experience of an eye test is visiting an optician on a high street, sitting in a room with expensive equipment, read down a letter chart and choose between two very slightly different lenses.
So, completely understandably, parents and educators make the assumption that this isn’t accessible to the children they are working with.
Actually, no one is too disabled for an eye test. There are lots of different ways of assessing vision. Critically, there are ways of measuring if you need refractive correction, just by shining a light in your eyes from arm’s length.
“We tried glasses and are unsure if they actually work”
Another myth is that we try glasses, they may or may not work and it is a bit of a guess.
Actually, a physical measurement of the eyes shows whether glasses are needed. So, it is possible to tell exactly how long or short sighted you are from measuring your eye.
This doesn’t need to involve choosing. The choosing that you do when you go to the opticians, is the very fine tuning at the end of those measurements which we can manage without.
“All children with complex needs don’t like wearing glasses”
A classic myth is that children with complex needs don’t like wearing glasses, they find it stressful and chuck them off.
There are two big reasons for this one.
One is that these children very often are given very strong glass prescriptions and they have been given a lot later in life. So, there is a need to get used to a really different image processing, a different image of the world. This would be challenging for anybody. If you have slower processing, slower cognition, this is even harder.
The second thing is that many children with complex needs have sensory needs. They may be very sensitive to having something on their face. Perhaps, they have a headrest, the glasses are banging at the back and getting knocked from side to side. That child may not be unable to communicate the glasses are uncomfortable in any other way than chucking them off.
“Children won’t get used to wearing glasses”
This myth ties in with the previous myth.
One of the benefits of delivering eye care in schools is that optometrists can work with school staff.
Optometrists can show school staff how a child is seeing without glasses and demonstrate how blurry their world is. They can then show how glasses will improve vision.
Working together can be a real game-changer in getting strategies in place for introducing glasses. Sometimes, little bits at a time, over a period of weeks or months.
Eventually there will be a massive improvement in a child’s engagement with things they can see.
Common eye care myths
- “I don’t think you’ll be able to test their eyes”
- “We tried glasses and are unsure if they actually work”
- “All children with complex needs don’t like wearing glasses”
- “Children won’t get used to wearing glasses”