What Glasses Should a Two Year Old That Seems Fine Get, When The Specialists Say Confusing Things?
December 29, 2010 2:45 AM   Subscribe

Doc says my 2 yr. old needs strong (+4.5-5.5) glasses. Doc #2 says +1.5 glasses. Kid sees perfectly fine... random MeFi strangers, help!

My daughter was born a preemie (beginning of 7th month),and the doctor told us to keep on the lookout to make sure her eyes would be OK.

We went to a big eye specialist who, after testing her, said she "needs +5.5 glasses, but since I want her to use her eyes and strain a bit, Give her +4.5 glasses... which will be lowered with time.. but will never go away completely."

my daughter sees fine, as far as we can tell... whether its a tiny ant crawling on the window or a candy stashed out of (our) sight.

we went to a second specialist, (without telling him that we had gone to someone else first.) this doctor indicated that "her vision is poor and she needs correction. all two-year-olds are somewhat farsighted(?), and so, I'd compensate her with +1.5 glasses so she will be just like everyone else her age."

this doctor warned us that if we do not get her glasses she could possibly become cross-eyed.

yesterday, we went to an optician (not a big specialist like the others- but a longtime optician that many swear by.) who told us a few points that confused us even more:

- that if she DOES get glasses, then it's quite possible that when she takes them off, she will be cross eyed. (because now her eyes are not focusing,and since the glasses will teach her to focus, when she removes the glasses and now "is not" focusing, her eyes will cross.

He also said that it IS possible that eventually she would not need glasses at all.

My wife REALLY, would rather not get her glasses if its not necessary.... and with the way she walks around the house, were it not for a doctor two years ago telling us to make sure her eyes were OK then (and that doctor meant an astigmatism, NOT farsightedness) we would never had dreamed she might need glasses...

I'd appreciate random MeFi-ites, whether parents of children with glasses, eye experts, know-it-alls, and others... what do you think about the difference between the two doctors?

is there any other alternative we should explore... or another piece of the puzzle?or a third doctor?

posted by Izzmeister to Health & Fitness (32 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I went in for a prescription this summer and the right eye had apparently strengthened by a full diopter.

It seemed unlikely my eye would have strengthened by a diopter, since my old glasses were still working okay.

Nonetheless, I went ahead with a new pair of glasses and, sure enough, couldn't see through them. So I had to return the glasses and get the prescription fixed.

I went back to the same place I got my prescription and saw the other of the two optometrists there, who was surprised by how bad my first reading was, which was initially done with a machine by one of the office assistants.

I had a second reading with the machine, as well as a longer "better-like-this, better-like-this" manual reading. This provided a better Rx from which I had new lenses made.

This new Rx was a lot closer to my old one, which seemed to make more sense.

What I'm saying anecdotally is that things could go wrong with a prescription. And optometrists seem to rely on machines to do quick and dirty prescriptions without the due diligence they used to do.

So it might be worth a third opinion to see which of the first two doctors is (more) wrong.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:18 AM on December 29, 2010

I would definitely take her to another, or even yet another doctor. And another, if necessary to feel perfectly assured that you know what's going on. I feel convinced that a misdiagnosis in early childhood (in a far-flung place where doctors were rare, and good skilled/experienced ones rarer) ruined my eyes. Nobody on either side of my large extended family has ever needed glasses (except for the typical aging eyesight problems that arise and one or two cases of slight myopia); of all my relatives, I'm the only one with fucked up eyes, and I'm convinced it's because of this. If I were you, yes, I'd be extra cautious.

(I think I was taken to an optometrist/whatever because I was getting constant headaches ... at some point later, a GP said I was getting headaches because my hair was too long and heavy for the ponytail I always wore. I'll always wonder if I'd had a different hair style — and thus no early visit to the eye doctor — if my vision would be okay/mostly okay.)
posted by taz at 3:20 AM on December 29, 2010

are you seeing a paediatric opthamologist or optometrist or what? It makes a huge difference - a friend is an optical mechanic and swore blind that baby anachronism had sight issues (crossed eyes at 3 months) but the paediatric optho we were already seeing since both my partner and I have sight issues not only said she wasn't cross eyed but that babies have that tendency anyway.

So yeah, get another opinion, preferably from a paediatric specialist.
posted by geek anachronism at 3:25 AM on December 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

My grandson has worn glasses since he was seven months old with a very, very strong (+7.5) prescription. It made a huge difference in his development, which was delayed due to the poor eyesight. We are amazed though at his ability to manuver without his glasses whenever he does take them off. He does go cross-eyed when they are off, a result of the strong glasses according to the pediatric opthomologist.
posted by tamitang at 3:49 AM on December 29, 2010

Seems like the kind of situation that would call for a third opinion. You keep mentioning how good your daughter's vision seems to be, as though you're trying to convince yourself to go against doctor's orders because you don't want to get the glasses. This is probably not a wise route to go down.
posted by thejoshu at 4:13 AM on December 29, 2010 [5 favorites]

I am a random MeFite with a son who has very poor eyesight. Not a specialist.

We found out he needed glasses when he was 6, just after he entered elementary school. I was shocked, to say the least, because I had assumed his eyes were fine.

What took me by surprise the most about finding out about my son's poor eyesight was that it hadn't been a gradual decline, but that he had been born with it. I couldn't believe it. I'd been careful to watch out for signs of poor vision because both my husband and I have needed to wear glasses since childhood ourselves (just ordinary nearsightedness and astigmatism, but still). But I was told by our doctor, a specialist in pediatric ophthalmology (is that right? I'm not sure what the equivalent is in English, I'm in Japan), that the shape of my son's left eye was the cause of his poor vision and that it was something he had been born with. My son had basically been getting by using his right eye only ever since he was born, and I hadn't noticed at all. I felt terrible.

I could go on about this, but to get to the point, please don't assume that your daughter's eyes are fine because she gets around all right or that she can see small things or faraway things or what have you. I did it, and I really regret not getting my son diagnosed sooner. If it worries you, take her to another doctor, get as many opinions as you want. But don't assume.

Also, I understand how your wife feels about glasses... I wish I didn't have to rely so heavily on mine and I also wish my son didn't have to wear them, either. But what puts things in perspective for me is that if my son hadn't been diagnosed when he was, he might have gone blind in one eye. Well, now at least he can see, albeit with glasses. Hooray for glasses. Really.

Hope things turn out OK for your daughter.
posted by misozaki at 4:16 AM on December 29, 2010 [11 favorites]

and with the way she walks around the house, were it not for a doctor two years ago telling us to make sure her eyes were OK then (and that doctor meant an astigmatism, NOT farsightedness) we would never had dreamed she might need glasses...

Are you sure she hasn't memorised the layout of the house? I can navigate my house without my glasses, and my script is -9.50 (and getting worse all the darn time). I once went 2 years with glasses that were 3 dioptres weaker than I needed, and didn't realise until I went back to uni and found I couldn't see the board. People adapt to crappy vision.

my daughter sees fine, as far as we can tell... whether its a tiny ant crawling on the window or a candy stashed out of (our) sight.

I am confused...you say you are being recommended +5.5 or +1.5 glasses. Those are far-sighted prescriptions (reading glasses). A farsighted person would be conceivably be able to see things stashed out of sight - it's close work they struggle with. This is not to say your kid needs glasses! And I agree you should get another opinion from a pediatric specialist. (And get that doctor to explain why his 3rd opinion is correct, and the other 2 are perhaps not, because all these conflicting reasons sound pretty confusing.)
posted by jaynewould at 4:24 AM on December 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

As a kid who was born with 20/600 vision (and now a 27 year old with 20/800 vision with glasses at -9 for both eyes) with astigmatism, lack of depth perception and an eye muscle surgery in which they removed my eyes to mess with the muscles and with a father who, for years, tried to convince me that I should try to go without my glasses both around the house and while playing sports, your wife can sod off. It made me miserable, it made me feel like there was something horrible about wearing glasses, that I should be ashamed of them and that it was all my fault.

It took me mentioning it to one of my specialists, that my dad thought I should avoid wearing my glasses, for him to call him to the exam room, sit him down in the chair, put some lenses in front of his eyes and say "this is what the world looks like to your son without glasses" to which he replied "jesus christ, not only can I not see the big E on the eye chart, I can't see the chart or even tell where the wall it is on really is!" Sure, he apologized for second guessing my doctors and felt really bad about it.

What on earth does your wife have against glasses? Is it a money thing? Or is she also anti-vac?

Get a third opinion and get this guy to explain. Alternatively, call the first two doctors and tell them about the other one's diagnosis.
posted by Brian Puccio at 5:46 AM on December 29, 2010 [16 favorites]

I can tell you that I needed glasses early, and nobody believed me.

Get a 3rd opinion from a pediatric opthalmologist. Part of the major issue is that your child's ability to process vison in the brain is developing now, and the more time your child has with appropriate interventions as necessary, the better the neural connections and integration of sight will be later on. But those pathways need to be there (this is one reason why the poster above would have had a child blind in one eye...to super-oversimplify, if you have a kid who is only using one eye, you have to force kids to use the 'poor' eye somehow--correction or patches or whatever is appropriate--or the brain junks the input and allocates the space to other functions, and the eye becomes useless permanently).
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 5:51 AM on December 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

If you told us where you are, you might get a good referral from someone here. My eye doctor is extremely well-qualified and explains everything well. If I knew you were near her, I'd recommend you take the girl there.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:56 AM on December 29, 2010

To clarify Brian's response: his eyes were probably detached from at least some of muscular attachments within the sockets, and the muscles were then reattached differently. Eyes are permanently attached to the brain by the optic nerve and retina, and a few other nerve branches and ganglia (clusters of nerve cell bodies) that lie on the optic nerve.

'Removing' an eye would sever these connections, and Brian would be blind. However, the fact that the eyes are essentially kept in place during that kind of surgery by fewer muscles (depending on how many were reattached) and incredibly delicate and crucial nervous structures makes it tricky indeed.

IANAD. I do teach eye anatomy and basic neuroanatomy.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 6:04 AM on December 29, 2010

I just wanted to pop in here and say that I had no symptoms of eyesight problems at all when I was younger. It took my parents completely by surprise when the doctor told them I needed them.

I could see that ant or see that candy just fine. Or so I thought. It's fine details I couldn't see. It's easy to see movement and bright colored things, even if you can't distinguish the edges of those objects. Think about all the things you see out of the corner of your eyes. Those aren't in focus.. they're blurry but you can still see and guess what's there, right?

Your brain adjusts to interrupt and understand what you can see.

It's hard to explain how awesome glasses are. I wouldn't give mine up, even if someone offered me free corrective surgery. I also don't think I'm worse off for having grown up wearing them. Eventually they become a part of who you are and you pay next to no attention to them. "Glasses? What glasses? Oh.. those things on my face. Yup. ^_^"

I think my point is that even though your daughter has no obvious symptoms of poor eyesight, it doesn't mean she sees perfectly. It's really not until you're confronted with an eye chart that it becomes obvious how imperfect eyesight can be.

and nthing everyone that says you should get as many more opinions as you feel comfortable with. At the very least, if you get four or five diagnosis and use the average to figure out which doctors are "right".

Children's eyesight changes as they grow (eyeballs, socks, and muscles all change as you age) and she may or may not need stronger or weaker glasses in the future.
posted by royalsong at 6:17 AM on December 29, 2010

I am not a doctor, but what I am getting out of this is that two specialists have agreed that your daughter needs glasses, just disagreed on what correction to give her, so I think you perhaps should accept that she does need some kind of vision correction, at least for now. Kids are growing and changing, and so are their eyes, so you never know how that may ultimately turn out for her vision so she may indeed "outgrow" the problem. I think a third specialist - a pediatric ophthamologist - is not uncalled for, and I would tell them what the other two have said (though what the second doctor said sounds very sensible to me, i.e. this: "this doctor indicated that "her vision is poor and she needs correction. all two-year-olds are somewhat farsighted(?), and so, I'd compensate her with +1.5 glasses so she will be just like everyone else her age.")

You don't say where you are, but note that if you are near Philadelphia, PA, consider consulting someone on the staff of Wills Eye Hospital, as that is a top place for eye care in the US. Here are some other top ranked hospitals in ophthamology. Look for one in your area that has a pediatric staff and then try to get an appointment with someone on that staff.

Also, as jaynewould points out, your daughter seems to be farsighted, so that usually (in simplistic terms) does involve problems with close work, and a two year old probably does not do a lot of that yet, but she will be needing to fairly soon, so you want her to be able to; i.e. she will be needing the glasses as she starts reading and such. Here is some general info. on farsightedness for you, which does talk about it in children a bit.

On a personal note, I am nearsighted (i.e. I have problems with distance vision) and I needed glasses at a young age, but my parents were in denial about it and it took a teacher in school saying that I could not read the blackboard for my parents to get my eyes tested. Once I got glasses we all realized that I had not been able to see at a distance for a very long time, but had compensated for it and my parents had not seen the signs (they still feel guilty about that, 40 plus years later). I coped fine as a youngster with glasses. So did my husband, who needed to get them at the age of three for distance.
posted by gudrun at 6:22 AM on December 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

and with the way she walks around the house ... we would never had dreamed she might need glasses...

First, a positive prescription implies farsightedness, so why would you expect her to have trouble walking around the house?

Second, my vision is pretty bad in the other direction. I take about -5 in both eyes; seriously nearsighted. I cannot focus more than about a foot away from my face. But if I needed to, I could navigate around my or anyone else's house just fine. I just wouldn't be able to read anything or, maybe, recognize faces.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:42 AM on December 29, 2010

her vision is poor and she needs correction. all two-year-olds are somewhat farsighted(?), and so, I'd compensate her with +1.5 glasses so she will be just like everyone else her age.

I think the two doctors are actually agreeing with each other as to the weakness in your daughter's vision - to bring her from being farsighted to 20/20 close vision, she would need about +5 or so correction. The first doctor seems to be saying that she should be brought to perfect close vision. The second doctor seems to be saying that most young children are naturally far-sighted to some extent (after all, they don't need to do a lot of close work yet), so he's saying that you should just correct her vision slightly to bring her in line with other 2-year-olds.

Perhaps this article will be helpful for you and your wife:
People are often confused about the importance of glasses for children. Some believe that if children wear glasses when they are young, they won't need them later. Others think wearing glasses as a child makes one dependent on them later. Neither is true. Children need glasses because they are genetically nearsighted, farsighted, or astigmatic. These conditions do not go away nor do they get worse because they are not corrected. Glasses or contacts are necessary throughout life for good vision.


Farsightedness is actually normal in young children and not a problem as long as it is mild. If a child is too farsighted, vision is blurry or the eyes cross when looking closely at things. This is usually apparent around the age of two.
posted by muddgirl at 7:03 AM on December 29, 2010 [4 favorites]

Go to see a third doctor, see what her recommendation is, and then see where her recs fit with the previous ones you've received. Ask her why there is such a difference between the previous doctors' recommendations.

But I also want to say that you personally have no meaningful way of assessing if your daughter is actually having trouble seeing. I have extremely poor vision, which began as a small child. My parents were under the impression that small children did not need glasses, and so it took until I was in first grade for my teacher to realize that I couldn't see that there was a board, let alone read anything on it. I could walk around my house and other familiar areas just fine, as well as see things that were extremely close to my eyes quite well. 30 years later, I can still walk around my house without glasses, I can still see light and changes in bright colors and I know where everything is.

I can certainly understand not wanting your daughter to use an aid that she does not need, but don't assume that she doesn't need it because you haven't seen evidence that she does.
posted by crankylex at 7:06 AM on December 29, 2010

I would add that prescriptions do change as life goes on. I have been getting slowly less farsighted since the age of 8, but I will never have 20/20 vision.

Also, on the point of crossed eyes, again I think all your doctors are in agreement but saying it in different ways. Your daughter may start crossing her eyes as she grows a bit older because she's trying to focus on things too close to her face. This will happen if she's not wearing glasses whether or not she normally wears them - the glasses will not make her cross-eyed, but perhaps they will help her realize that there's stuff to focus on close-up.
posted by muddgirl at 7:08 AM on December 29, 2010

My twins (E&S) were preemies, too. S got glasses at 6, but E doesn't need them. They are still being followed by the same ophthalmologist they saw in the NICU, and all three of us see the same optometrist (recommended by the ophthalmologist*) for 'regular' checkups. If your daughter is only 2, see if the NICU or follow-up clinic has a recommendation.

*They must spend a week just learning how to spell that word.
posted by ES Mom at 7:08 AM on December 29, 2010

nthing going to a Pediatric Ophthalmologist, and just be glad you all are being proactive and getting the glasses now, I needed them at two, but my parents never thought to get me checked, and when I played catch with dad and the ball suddenly got way closer as it crossed between eyes (one near sighted eye, one far sighted). Get a third opinion, get glasses if glasses are needed.
posted by deezil at 7:15 AM on December 29, 2010

Chiming in to say, yes, by all means get a third opinion but don't fear the glasses.

I didn't get glasses till third grade. My parents were shocked I couldn't see well and from what I am told, almost cried from the guilt when I first put them on and was happily exclaiming "I can see the leaves on the trees!" And when my mom was trying to get me to not depend on the glasses so much, the eye doc did the same thing as the above poster-showing her with lenses what it was like to see the way I did without them.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:19 AM on December 29, 2010

St. Allia -- I remember making the exact same statement; it's sad to think that before that point I was missing all that definition in my vision.
posted by bizzyb at 8:19 AM on December 29, 2010

As Uniformitarianism Now! mentioned, yes, my optic nerve was fine, but the muscles were all screwy. I was later told that I had doubles of each muscle and that the surgeon was so impressed, he took pictures and submitted me to some journal.

Also, as Uniformitarianism Now! also mentioned, the parts of the brain to deal with vision are forming now. My girlfriend is blind in one eye not because of problems with the eye or the optic nerve, but because the brain just ignores it due medical issues as a very young child.
posted by Brian Puccio at 8:35 AM on December 29, 2010

I'm just here to support the idea that you really don't know what she's seeing from her behavior. The day I got my glasses, four days after my third birthday, is the first day as I child I really remember because there was such a change in the way I saw the world.

And bear in mind that I was already reading before I got my glasses, so its not like it was obvious there was an issue with my vision.

this doctor warned us that if we do not get her glasses she could possibly become cross-eyed.

It was actually my right eye beginning to turn in that alerted my mother that there was an issue. I ended up having to wear an eyepatch over my dominant eye for a few years, trying to give my "lazy" eye a chance to work harder, but it didn't work, so I eventually needed surgery (which was botched the first time, leaving me with double vision for six months at the age of 7, so they had to do it twice).

Glasses are not some huge stigma. They're a tool to help your daughter's body work correctly and to assist her in being able to see the world as clearly as she can. Two experts agree that she needs glasses. Get her glasses.
posted by anastasiav at 9:10 AM on December 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

"I can see the leaves on the trees!"

I had a similar moment. Nobody had any idea I needed glasses until my teacher sent home a note about how much trouble I was getting into for "wandering around the room," and--being the good little oppressed kid I was--that wasn't like me. But I was getting up to try to read the blackboard, and didn't realize everyone else could see it just fine. I "got around" just fine; *I* certainly had no idea that I couldn't see as well as everyone else.

Then I got glasses, and...you're supposed to be able to SEE that? And that? And look at all the detail! "Leaves on the trees" was definitely among the first "wow" moments.

I still have a fondness for Impressionism, though, as that's how I think of the world even to this day.
posted by galadriel at 11:24 AM on December 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm around a -7 and I've had glasses since I was around 3 years old. Sure glasses were a pain growing up (I broke a lot of them and it was a hassle with sports and what not...plus they were thick and ugly) but I got to think all of those things are far better than not being able to recognize faces or letters. Plus I bet kid's glasses are a lot thinner, stronger and more attractive than what they were like in the late 70s/early 80s.
posted by mmascolino at 11:50 AM on December 29, 2010

Brian Puccio: Also, as Uniformitarianism Now! also mentioned, the parts of the brain to deal with vision are forming now. My girlfriend is blind in one eye not because of problems with the eye or the optic nerve, but because the brain just ignores it due medical issues as a very young child.

Yup, this is me. Well, the blind in one eye bit, not the girlfriend bit. My right eye is legally blind and will never be okay but that's because my mother was only able to take me to optometrists (damn you small towns) and the one she was seeing insisted she was 'hysterical' and there was no way I needed glasses. Being the sneaky little fucker I was, I'd been memorising the chart with my good eye so when they tested the bad one, I reeled it off by memory. I thought it was a game! Everyone (apart from Mum) was so pleased that I did it! So between 2 and 6 I should have had glasses. I didn't. Until mum took me to a different optometrist who not only believed her, but went by something other than 'repeat the letters'.

So first year of school I got big ugly glasses AND patching to compensate. My sister was 4 and suffered the same thing, just before that first year of school. We were poor so the glasses that fucking hipster douches wear now? Those were my only choices. Even those were my only choices now, I'd still wear them. Being blind fucking sucks. My partner and I have both realised that our daughter's vision is very much better than ours but there's no way we would just let it slide rather than have her wear specs. Beyond anything else, glasses are cool (hipster douche/extreme poverty charity ones aside) and we like being able to recognise people. We like being able to see the colour of people's eyes. We like th leaves on trees and street signs and baby fingers. Your daughter will have different vision needs but I would be reluctant to compromise fine motor skill development by artificially making her close vision worse via not having glasses.
posted by geek anachronism at 12:22 PM on December 29, 2010

Izzmeister, show this thread to your wife.

Both parents need to be emotionally supportive to their child who has corrective lenses, because other kids in school WILL be idiotic and tease them for no reason at all. There is nothing wrong with having corrective tools; they just are.

I remember my parents waiting for long periods between updating my glasses prescription when I was a child under the false hope that my eyes would get more "exercise" and "get better," thus "slowing down" the need for stronger prescripts. I was always happy when I got new glasses because that meant I COULD SEE THE CHALKBOARD.

Let me tell you, as others have already pointed out above: Being able to see detail and whatnot is infinitely, infinitely better than whatever fucked up subconscious cultural assumption your wife and others like her make about "four-eyed" folks being incomplete human beings.
posted by Ky at 12:56 PM on December 29, 2010

Nthing what everyone else is saying. My daughter's prescription is about +4.5 and we had no idea she couldn't see until she was 5. The pediatrician thought she could see too. I had been VERY unsuccessfully trying to teach her to read for a while when she tried to read an eye chart in WalMart. She laughed and said NO ONE could see that. I had thought it was strange that she could spell but not read but I am near sighted and I knew that she could see stars and didn't seem to have a problem seeing. So, when she finally got glasses (and a patch to help stregthen her weaker eye) she said, "Hey...now there's only ONE moon!". Kid, maybe you should have mentioned that there was more than one moon. Anyway, my doctor initially put her in slightly weaker glasses than she needed because he says that kids won't wear really strong glasses because they are hard to get used to. A year later, he bumped up her prescription to what she needed and she was thrilled. As soon as she got the first pair, her handwriting got smaller and much more legible and she was reading really soon after. The second pair made her gasp, "Look! There are page numbers in my books!" So, a two year old will be able to get by with a weak prescription for a while, but at 4 or so, you'll want it bumped up for reading.
posted by artychoke at 1:03 PM on December 29, 2010

Ooh - also, my daughter has never been teased about her glasses because she had them before she was in school. They seem to tease kids with new glasses for a while. She's always had them, so no one pays attention to them. Also, it seems way more kids have glasses nowadays compared to when I was a kid so it's not as big of a deal.
posted by artychoke at 1:07 PM on December 29, 2010

If you're in Los Angeles, either UCLA Jules Stein or USC Doheny will have excellent pediatric specialists on hand. My preference is for Jules Stein, but I'm a filthy Westsider and driving to USC is a pain.

I was a preemie, born crosseyed and fantastically nearsighted. I got what the Marines call "birth-control goggles" at 18 months, with a big ol' elastic strap to hold them to my head. My grandmother cried. It was all very dramatic-- for my family, not for me. I couldn't tell you anything about it, I was too little. (I do remember my crib being blurry when I was a kid, which sort of indicates that I maybe didn't have glasses yet or didn't have them on all the time.) I eventually ended up a high myope-- -7.75 in one eye, -7.50 in the other, then -10.50 in one and -4.25 in the other after a car accident and a few years to let everything settle back down.

I nearly got the surgery Brian Puccio describes around age 3, except for one thing-- the specialist my parents went to had only performed the procedure once, on his own son, and screwed it up. Obviously, the state of the art in pediatric ophthalmics, both technically and ethically, has come a long way since 1979. "How many times have you done this and what is your success rate; what is the facility's success rate as a whole; if this was your kid, who would you send them to for this" is a standard question suite that you should ask if any sort of surgical option comes onto the table, or if you are unsure about any course of action that is suggested to you.

As it turned out later, it was a good thing I hadn't had it and had just opted for exercises and glasses-- unlike Brian, I didn't have enough viable muscle in there for surgical correction, which the specialist who reattached my retina when I was 27 discovered when he went in and poked around. The retinal thing was post-traumatic and unrelated to my earlier issues, but my earlier issues did complicate things-- and if I'd had better medical records of those early issues, it would have been easier to figure out courses of action. Starting early and compiling a complete portrait of your daughter's visual acuity and specific challenges will pay off down the line.

And yeah, if your kid doesn't need glasses at all, of course your wife doesn't want to have to go through the expense and the hassle for the kid. I don't read her concern as socially-motivated, just prudent-- and that's why, really, heading down to your local top-10 or top-20 (if you're not near CA, NY, FL, OH, MD, IA, MA, or NC) eye hospital and getting those guys to examine your daughter will give you both a good direction to go in and peace of mind about your approach. The folks in hospitals like Stein, Bascom Palmer, Wills, Doheny, and the Cleveland Clinic have seen it all, written papers about it, and are creating the techniques and services that, in a few years, will filter down to private practice and local hospitals without the same research base. If there is any question to be decided, they can explain it to you and support you through your decision-making process.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 2:07 PM on December 29, 2010

(Fair enough; I projected previous comments and my own experiences onto assumptions about precisely why the wife "really" would not get glasses, but there isn't that much information for the social side of things. Regardless, a third opinion from an expert looks really necessary given the disparity. As some others have pointed out, the fact that both say she needs glasses strongly suggests she does need them regardless--just what strength is the question.)
posted by Ky at 3:09 PM on December 29, 2010

I was another of those "there are leaves on the trees!" people. I needed glasses way before when I actually got them (at 6), and my parents never suspected, despite my mother having bad eyes. Even when I would actually get hit with the ball playing t-ball or catch, since I couldn't see it coming, people just assumed I had incredibly bad motor control. And I always answered "Of course I can see the board!" at school, since I could see the board. Sort of. I just couldn't see a thing that was on it. I cannot stress how much better life was when I could properly see. I also have no visual memories before I got my glasses, since there was nothing to see but the haze about a foot from my face.

I would definitely get another opinion as far as treatment and what's appropriate in a child of that age, but since the first two opinions agree with each other in the diagnosis, I don't think there's as much discrepancy as you think. It sounds like your daughter is pretty far-sighted, so of course she can get around the house and see ants across the room. She just can't make a thing focus in the foot or two directly around her (and when she tries, she'll go cross-eyed).
posted by wending my way at 9:16 AM on December 30, 2010

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