So when my son’s teacher suggested The K Man get an eye exam this year to rule out some issues he’s been having at school, I dreaded making the appointment. It would mean yanking him out of school on a Tuesday afternoon to trek into the city and then make our way home at the height of rush hour traffic. I knew it was time to break up with my eye doctor. Then this opportunity with Pearle Vision popped up in my inbox. (Some pretty fantastic timing to say the least.)
I recognized the brand. I could picture the logo. And I knew there was a Pearle Vision location in Oshawa about 15 minutes from my house. But that’s about all the information I had about the company. As I was reading more about it, I noticed that I could book appointments online. This is huge for me, because with a hectic day job, busy blog job, a family that’s always on the go and a longer to-do list than I care to mention, anything that can be done online at 11:37 p.m. once I have time to think clearly, is a relief.
Because our local Pearle Vision is so close, I decided to book appointments for The K Man, Miss Q and yours truly. (After all, kids in Ontario get free annual eye exams until age 20!) I had the pick of the litter, as it were, with appointment times available any day of the week in time slots that suited our needs perfectly. In the days leading up to our appointment, here’s what I learned about Pearle Vision:
- It was founded in 1961 by Dr. Stanley Pearle, who first opened a one-stop, total eye care shop in Savannah, Georgia. His concept combined complete eye exams with an extensive selection of eyewear
- Today, there are nearly 600 Pearle Vision eye care centres located throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico (so there’s probably one near you, too)
- This is a Doctor-centred business model that has a primary focus on delivering genuine eye care to patients
- Welcome news for many families is that Pearle Vision bills directly to most insurance benefit plans (with the exception of Blue Cross and Manulife in Canada), making it even easier and more convenient to get your family’s eye health sorted out with very little hassle
Then we arrived for our appointment; I was immediately struck by how bright and nicely laid out our neighbourhood Pearle Vision Centre is, with row upon row of designer-brand frames (think Burberry, Tory Burch, Tiffany & Co. and Coach to name a few). My kids started trying on the cutest pint-sized frames while I checked in and filled out some basic paperwork.
It was go time.
I sat in on the kids’ exams, and the first thing I confirmed is that they were being done by an actual doctor. She genuinely tried to connect with them before she got down to business, too, asking about school, sports and hobbies — which is an often overlooked part of what it means to have “good bedside manner.”
The K Man’s comprehensive eye exam determined that he has something called “convergence insufficiency,” which is a fancy term that essentially means he can’t go cross-eyed. And while that might not sound like anything of great importance, it might in fact be a big link to the school issues that I mentioned landed us here in the first place. Basically, if a child can’t properly focus on letters up close as they get smaller and smaller as the child gets older and older, they can get easily distracted and frustrated and give up. She added than about two or three kids a week in the 20 or so she sees have convergence insufficiency.
The doctor explained that in some cases of ADD and ADHD diagnoses, treating convergence insufficiency can be all a child needs to prevent the need for medication or even treatment altogether. Our doctor prescribed cross-eye practise. No joke. Five times a week, we need to help The K Man go cross-eyed, for a total of 20 reps each session. This will go on for two months and if we see improvement, we can just spot check every few weeks. If there’s no improvement, the doctor suggested we return for a referral to a specialist to see if something else is going on.
Before this moment, I pretty much thought you went to an eye doctor to (1) figure out whether or not you needed glasses or (2) determine if you have cataracts or glaucoma. And now, it may have just unlocked something huge for my kid. I was floored.
I was impressed by the quality of the equipment at Pearle Vision; it seemed a lot more leading edge than what I was used to. We were off to a good start.
The quality of Miss Q’s and my exams were also great, and I left Pearle Vision that day with several helpful tips thanks to our new eye doctor and the (many) questions she took the time to answer:
- Every child should get his/her eyes checked in infancy; and if everything is normal, eye exams should pick up again annually starting at age three. Remember: these exams aren’t just about prescriptions — they’re about total eye health
- Don’t be freaked out if your usually smart kindergartner can’t read all her letters properly during the exam. Before age seven, eyes haven’t reached their full potential and reading the smallest lines with 100 per cent accuracy during the eye exam isn’t expected or indicative of problems
- Hydrating eye drops can be really helpful for dry eyes (like mine) that spend a lot of time in front of a screen
- Watching TV or looking at a computer screen should be done in a bright space so your eyes don’t have to work so hard
- For the best eye health and development, children should not have more than two hours a day of screen time
- Employ the 20/20/20 rule when it comes to screen time for every member of the family: take a 20-second break every 20 minutes, then a 20-minute break every two hours
- Don’t use oily makeup removers and don’t put makeup along your water line (oops…) — both can block tear glands
My prescription still hadn’t changed since my last exam in 2012, but on a whim as I was getting up to leave, I mentioned that I’ve been wearing contacts much more than usual because of my newfound winter sport: skiing.
I asked the doctor at Pearle Vision about the best contacts for dry eyes since I was experiencing a lot of discomfort after wearing my usual brand for more than four or five hours. She handed me samples of a daily disposables brand I’d never heard of (despite complaining to my optician for years about my dry-eye issues with contact lenses) and explained that they have a membrane on the surface that prevents blinking from wiping away the moisture in them over the course of the day.
And what do you know? The first time I tried them, I wore a pair for 10 hours without even a hint of irritation. On the third try, I forgot they were even in my eyeballs and neglected to take them out before going to bed and slept in them. This is ginormous for me and I’m so, so thankful that my favourite new eye doctor suggested them.
Be sure to visit PearleVision.ca to find a location in your neighbourhood and book eye exams for you and your bambinos. You never know what you might uncover! You can also find Pearle Vision on Facebook and YouTube.
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