A BUNBURY mother was reduced to tears when her five-year-old son Frazer Dolan put on prescription glasses for the first time, 12 months ago.
Stacey Deegan said Frazer spent an hour walking around the shops touching and looking at things he had never been able to see before after receiving his first pair of spectacles.
“At this point in time, my mouth was hanging on the table and I couldn’t believe my son couldn’t see a thing.”
She said the first thing he said after walking out of the optometrist’s shop was “wow mum, there are cracks on the floor”.
“That reaction was incredible,” Stacey said.
“I couldn’t do anything but cry and feel a sense of guilt when I realised I had no idea Frazer had such bad eyesight – he was almost legally blind in his left eye.”
Ms Deegan and her family live on a property in Capel where she said Frazer’s behaviour seemed just like a normal little boy, jumping off things and having no fear.
But Frazer’s lack of fear was a challenge for Ms Deegan who had not experienced the same behaviour with her eldest son Regan.
“Originally I just put it down to him just being a really clumsy boy, very boisterous and rough with a lack of judgement, because boys will be boys,” she said.
“We had visual issues in the family so I thought it wouldn’t hurt to get him checked and see if his eyes were part of him falling over all the time and running into doors and jumping off things that he really shouldn’t.”
She said in the eye test, Frazer was shown a series of images depicting a house, an aeroplane and a bird however, all Frazer saw was a spot.
“At this point in time, my mouth was hanging on the table and I couldn’t believe my son couldn’t see a thing,” she said.
Ms Deegan is urging all parents to get their kids eyes checked following a report from Optometry Australia outlining a decline in children using optometric services.
She said Frazer’s behaviour drastically improved after he got his first pair of prescription glasses.
“It seemed that when his eyes were turned on, his ears also turned on and his learning outcomes have taken huge steps just 12 months since getting glasses,” she said.
Frazer said now he could see at school and his time on the farm was much more enjoyable.
“Sometimes I jump off the bars and the horse racks,” Frazer said.
“I like picking the frames, these ones are Star Wars.”
Ms Deegan said after spreading the word around Capel Primary School about Frazer’s experience, other students went and got tested with astonishing results.
“Frazer was the first to get glasses in his class of 18 and now there are seven children in his grade wearing them,” Ms Deegan said.
“The difference it made to the behaviour of those kids in the class and also as a parent to your everyday life is huge. We went from struggling with behaviour to getting a kid that was agreeable, all because being able to see enabled him to stay focused.”
Optometry Australia optometrist Luke Arundel warned parents while some signs of vision problems were obvious, others were hard to identify, and children themselves usually couldn’t tell if there was anything wrong, because they assumed everyone saw the world as they did.
Mr Arundel said some signs of vision problems in children include: noticeable tilting or turning of the head when the child is looking at something, frequent blinking or rubbing of the eyes, red or watery eyes, difficulty reading, holding a book very close while reading, and one eye turning in or out while the other is pointing straight ahead.
One in five Australian children suffer from an undetected vision problem, but recent Medicare statistics show the numbers of children using optometric services despite good vision being a crucial component of them having the best chance of reaching their full potential.
In 2011/12 and 2012/13, Medicare figures showed increases in visits by children aged up to 14 to an optometrist but 2013/14 showed decreases for those up to the age of four.
The trend continued into 2014/15 with a sharp decline in optometric services to children of all ages up to 14.