A visit to the eye doctor

Whenever you visit the doctor for whatever reason with children,  it is always an adventure and the adventure I was about to embark on was scary. 

Since I have a daughter in elementary school, Gaby is in 3rd grade, a visit to the eye doctor eventually comes.  Gaby has always complained about headaches.  Some days her headaches were mild and a Motrin would help.  Other days they were more severe where she would vomit, need to take a nap, and Motrin to feel relief.  But I have to admit I really didn't pay much attention to it because my husband and his family get a lot of headaches so I thought she would too. Then the headaches became common; she was getting them 2-3 days per week.  I mentioned it to her pediatrician and he recommended that I monitor the severe ones.  Well, I was monitoring all of them.  I generally would write down when they happened, how severe, and what she had eaten right before the onset of the headache.  Then they just got less severe and less often.  So we let it go to the wayside.

Then in September 2009 she began 3rd grade and the headaches returned.  I noticed the headaches were on weekdays after school.  The mornings, weekends, and holidays were headache free.  So, I began to observe her and question her about her sight.  I began to see she would bend over to do her homework, to get as close as possible to the page.  I asked her if she could see the letters and she said, "yes."  I also asked her about her seating in school and if she could see the board.  She told me that she sat in the back of the classroom and that she could see the board fine.  I also noticed she didn't have to sit very close to the television so I really didn't know what to expect.  Then I began to read about vision problems in children and one of the first things it said was that children who have vision problems may not be able to differenitate between good sight and bad sight.  So I decided to make an appointment with the eye doctor.

My next step is to choose a doctor that our insurance would cover.  I was looking for a doctor close to home who specialized in children.  They gave me a few names, some were optometrists and others were ophthamologists and all specialized in children.  So I picked one and took her in.  She was given a battery of tests by a technician, and she was asked a variety of questions.  I had never seen the machines nor the tests that were given to her.  I was really impressed.  Then the shock came.  I was given a sheet of paper with about 20 questions all pertaining to her reading.  The questions ranged from, "does your vision get worse during they day?"  To which she answered yes.  Then it asked if the letters looked blurry or if they looked like they came into one big pile of letters, again the answer is yes. I was very surprised; she said to yes to almost everything.  And the doctor hadn't begun to examine her yet.  Oh my God!  Then the doctor came in and began the exam.  Some letters on the chart she could see and others she couldn't.  I thought wow, she needs glasses.  Once the doctor was done he gave me the diagnosis: her eyes couldn't focus properly, they weren't working as a team.  The medical terms are:  Accommodative Dysfunction, General Binocular Vision Dysfunction, and Ocular Motor Dysfunction.  I thought, okay give me the prescription for the glasses so this can be fixed.  Then the shocker, "Glasses won't help, she needs vision therapy."  I immediately thought to myself, "Therapy, what is this therapy?" 

While I was in the waiting area, I read testimonials about vision therapy and the wonders it did to other children.  As the doctor's explained, all these thoughts are going through my head, "How much does this cost?"  "Will insurance cover this?"  "When can we get started?"  In all this I remember him saying that if the problem isn't corrected it will get worse and her academics would suffer.  Of course we can't have that.  So, let's move on to price, it would cost $500 to do a pretest to determine the therapy she needs, then she would need 24 therapy sessions at $135, and finally a post test at $500 to ensure the therapy had worked and if not then more therapy sessions.  My eyes nearly popped out and began to do the math in my head, $4000, but for my daughter that's nothing.   The lady said, "Most insurances don't cover this and the cost would be out-of-pocket."  Fine I have a CareCredit credit card, no interest for 18 months. 

I left the office in shock and awe.  During the ride home I called my husband and told him everything, he said do it.  My mother overheard and offered to lend me the money. 

Then the guilt set in. As I was driving home I thought "I'm a bad parent. How can I ask her for better grades when she doesn't have the right equipment?"  Ay mama, what will I do?


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  • Just dropped a couple grand on orthodontia for my oldest son (he is only in 2nd grdae!!!).
    I feel your pain!!!

  • I can relate to your daughter because I too had visual problems that made reading more difficult. But my problem was not diagnosed until I was 27 years old and a student in optometry school.

    I'm sure all of this is stressful and confusing now. But focus on what your daughter's life will be like without headaches at school. Although it my seem expensive, be happy that Accommodative Dysfunction, Binocular Vision Dysfunction, and Ocular Motor Dysfunction can be treated with Vision Therapy. It is the appropriate treatment for these types of conditions, and has been effective in treating thousands of patients. You can find many success stories on the web. Visiontherapystories.org has many.

    If you have questions, the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD), an organization of doctors that treat these kinds of problems will help answer them. You can find them at covd.org

    Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD

  • In reply to NateBW:

    Thank you fro reading the blog and your interest in my daughter's well-being. I will keep in mind your suggestions but, please read on Saturday, where I relate what I did with my daughter.

  • Since you live in Chicago, you have many resources available to you. Check out http://www.covd.org for information and go to http://www.MainosMemos.blgospot.com for the latest research in children's vision care.
    Dominick M. Maino, OD, MEd, FAAO, FCOVD-A

  • In reply to dmaino:

    Thank you for suggestions, I will keep them in mind. Please read on Saturday, where I relate what I did with my daughter.

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