Seeing for the first time

Seeing for the first time – my story!

I often wonder how people managed before glasses were invented. I know we’re talking many, many moons ago, way back in the 13th century – but even then it wouldn’t have been every Tom, Dick or Harry who could get glasses; it was probably only the distinguished few who had a pair…

Being relatively short-sighted myself, I literally couldn’t function without some sort of vision help. I’m a complete hazard to myself and to others if I even try getting out of bed without my glasses on. Back in the day of no glasses I’d be so disabled without mine that I honestly wouldn’t be able to leave the house!

Casting my mind back, I discovered when I was about 11 years old that I couldn’t see the board at school, and I most definitely wasn’t too keen to sit under the teachers’ noses. So I was marched to my local Opticians who sorted the problem and gave me my first pair of glasses, which I might add were a pair that my two sisters had both worn before me. I didn’t actually realise it at the time, but looking back at photos now I have no idea why anyone let me out with those things on!

Anyway, I was just so happy that I could see clearly again that I didn’t seem to notice what I looked like. Back in those days kids certainly weren’t as fashion-conscious as they are now. There were 2 choices: ugly NHS frames or even uglier NHS frames. So the large, round gold hand-me-down glasses that my sister was only too happy to ‘pass on’ did the job.

Getting those first glasses was the most amazing thing ever. Although I knew that I couldn’t see the board, I hadn’t realised that I couldn’t see the leaves on the trees, the flowers in the fields, expressions on people’s faces or the posters in the bus going to school. I didn’t think about it at the time, but getting those glasses was the first day of the rest of my life wearing glasses.

I didn’t realise back then either that I’d end up being on the other side, the person whose job it is to help children to see. Witnessing the joy in children’s eyes, the way that their face lights up when they can see clearly, for what seems to them as the first time, is the best feeling in the world. And it always amazes me how shocked parents are when they realise that their child can’t see well. It’s a shame to think that some children spend months or years not being able to see properly, and don’t know to tell someone. They believe that everyone sees the same way that they do.

It’s surprising how many parents tell me they didn’t realise that children should have eye exams all through school years. They are aware of the importance of having their teeth checked every 6 months, but somehow the message to parents of the importance of annual eye exams for children slips through the net.

Let’s not leave our children to suffer with poor vision in silence. There’s an integral link between vision, reading and learning. Some children dislike or complain about having to read and do homework, and it can all be down to how their eyes are seeing the words. A simple pair of glasses can sort the problem out and give children the chance to progress better in school.

Here’s the good news: children’s eye exams are free on the NHS and they also can avail of an NHS voucher to help pay for glasses if they need them. So if your child hasn’t had an eye exam in the last year give us a ring and we’ll make sure that they are seeing the best they can, giving them the best chance to do well at school and in their future.

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