In the previous session, we discussed eye charts. Hopefully you have ordered yours already!
Now we will look at another way to measure your child’s vision acuity. This one will depend a bit on the child’s age, and require some practice. As always, keep in mind to make this low stress. We don’t have to get it perfect the first time. A big part of the process is to let the child discover things, and progress at a comfortable pace. Alien things either turn positive or negative in the child’s mind quickly – so we want to keep things brief, easy, and always ending on a positive note.
The centimeter measurement is, with practice, a more accurate way to determine focusing ability.
It will seem subjective at first. Take some time to get used to it.
It is also a very good tool to measure changes in acuity, and to pinpoint sources of eye strain.
If you have not yet considered the nature of the myopia vision check at the optometrist shop, let’s consider what it really is: measuring refractive error. There is very, very little involved – despite the whizzing, clicking machines, the dark room, the articulating arm-mounted contraption filled with lenses. Much of that, is really just for show. Your optometrist won’t think so, but he also got sold on all the latest in high tech solutions. In reality, it doesn’t matter if you use a $50,000 auto refractometer, or a 50 cent piece of measuring tape, and your computer screen – it all just tells you how far your eyes can focus, clearly.
Above is a very important point. Understanding it means taking back your sense of control over your eyesight prognosis. You don’t need to go to a shop, and stare through a machine that costs as much as a new car. It just measures how far you can see clearly. And based on thousands of tests I have done myself, with dozens of these machines, I can tell you something else:
That $50,000 auto refractometer is far less accurate than you, and a 50 cent measuring tape.
I promise you this. Once you have gotten proficient using the measuring tape, and the eye chart, you can determine your own refractive error more accurately than the optometrist shop. If you want to go all out and spend another $200, you can buy a test lens kit online – with this, your measurement accuracy far, far surpasses what the optic shop will give you (not necessary, but worth considering).
Most optic shops, as discussed previously, are just retail sales locations for fashion eyewear and overpriced lens coatings. The machines add to the mystique and the sales pitch. Don’t let that intimidate you. Refractive error checking is so easy!
And if you are wondering about advanced topics, such as ciliary vs. axial myopia, take a look at this article. We will also discuss more of this, and how to determine whether your child has ciliary or axial myopia (or both) – in a future installment.
Here is a good how-to on doing centimeter measurements.
Please read the article, before continuing on.
Ready? Lets adjust this process for your child. This is important, because the more the process is fun, the less the child will resist it. Ideally, we want your child to become curious, and start looking for that edge-of-focus him/herself. Use your parental instincts to make sure we keep this light and fun.
We need to find a suitable object to use for edge-of-focus finding.
This can be a three dimensional object, like a toy. Legos are a good example of this – how far can we move the lego man back, until we can’t tell whether he is smiling or frowning? I use this example since legos are quite popular, interchangeable, and there are lots of facial expressions. Three idential cowbow lego men, each with a different facial expression.
The child may be laying on his/her stomach (just as example – to create a completely static posture, no moving forward of the head which would be easy if the child is sitting). You can create alternate postures, just keep them natural, and such that moving the head forward is prevented.
Now, you might put the lego men on a board, next to each other, and slowly move the board towards the child, centimeter by centimeter. “Can you see which one is frowning, yet?”
Once the child can see the frown, measure the distance from the child’s eyes, to the lego. That’s the centimeter reference for edge-of-blur. The measurement takes a bit of practice. Relax, enjoy, after you make the process your own, it will seem like second nature.
Of course you can use text on a computer, like the adult version of this test suggests. But why make it boring? Most children, especially at younger ages, won’t be all to excited about that. It’s work!
Keep a log of the centimeter measurements.
You can now use the Web Calculator to determine the myopia degree related to the centimeter. But there is one more thing you should seriously consider doing, with this work:
Add a compelling story.
What’s going on? How do we sell this whole myopia story to the child, in the first place?
I found that for long term success, turning the tables and have the child push for more, is very helpful in the long term success of your vision improvement project. Since our practice has been around for 40 years, we have some very good, very long term data. I see adults with 20/10 vision, who started as children – and their parents sold a great, relevant story. It is that pride that translates into the subconscious, and promotes life long eye health.
Now, what are good stories?
Take a look at this blog post about my favorite psychology trick.
It is one example. Obviously, age dependent, and dependent on what your child enjoys. I will give you some more example in upcoming installments. You can also use the forum to describe your particular scenario, for additional suggestions.
A Quick Note:
As you can see, these installments include quite a bit of substance, in terms of things to put in perspective, and action items to follow up with. This is why I like to space them out in two-per-week segments. You need time to put them into practice. The installments are entirely wasted, as just reading material. A big part of what you are getting here is not just ‘an interesting read’. I want you to be able to take in new information, put it into practice, follow up in the forum (if you like), and then move on to the next one.
You will get much more out of carefully reading ten of these installments and using them, than reading a hundred, and filing them away as interesting and ‘for later’.
When you take time to read an installment, plan on following up with the action items!
What should we do, today?
Find the centimeter measurement objects.
Be it legos, be it your child’s favorite book, whatever the case may be. Making the object(s) interesting will go a long way in getting the child interested in the process. I have seen kids who really like to see how far away they can clearly see the Lego frown. And know how many centimeters it is.
You also want to prevent cheating, by using something like the lego (since you can easily move them, the child can’t memorize a look). If you are doing a good job with this, over time the child will be more inclined to be self critical, to be able to celebrate improvements. More on all of this in future installments – we will discuss how to celebrate centimeter improvements, how to get centimeter improvements, the role of prescription lenses, and lots more!
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