By Josette Keelor - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- Early eye care is more important than many parents realize, according to David B. Miller, an optician who recently published his first book, a children's story that stresses the importance of good eyesight.
"The Adventures of Anthony as Seen through His Eyes" tells the tale of Anthony, a 6-year-old who lives in Winchester and discovers that he needs glasses to be able to read the words printed on the blackboard in his class.
Miller, 59, of Winchester, wrote the book to help treat a need he saw developing among his young clients.
"The parents don't take them [to the eye doctor] early enough," says Miller, who works as an optician at the Wal-Mart Vision Center in Leesburg.
All children should visit the eye doctor for a routine exam before entering kindergarten, he says. Whether or not parents notice a vision problem in their children, an exam can spot potential problems, such as cataracts, which, while rare in children, are a potential threat and one that Miller has seen in children as young as 11.
The 11-year-old he saw had advanced stages of cataracts, he says, which could have been prevented if caught much sooner.
"For a child to get it, it's rare, but anything can happen," he says.
"You've only got two eyes," he says, and keeping them healthy is a necessity.
Miller hopes that his new book will not only help children better understand why they or their classmates might need to wear glasses but also help prepare them for their first eye appointment.
"This intention of the book ... is just to make the public aware," he says.
The first half of the book tells the fictional story of Anthony, offering children a fun story along with some facts on eye care. The second half is for parents, he says, and explains what children can expect from their first appointment. Miller hopes parents will read the story to their children.
He and Dorrance Publishing Co. have been marketing the book through state school board offices across the United States. He has contacted 16 states so far and has heard back from nine, seven with positive responses, he says.
Writing the book itself has been an interesting experience for the former Navy instructor with the Naval Ophthalmic Support and Training Activity in Yorktown. Miller had never written a book, much less one intended for kindergartners, but he is happy with the result.
"Pretty much it's just trial and error," he says of the revisions he has made based on reader responses.
He believes there is a great need for literature about the eye doctor experience.
"I searched the Internet, I found a book," he says. One book, however, was hardly an overwhelming result to his search, plus he had hoped to find something with a little more depth.
"I'm trying to encompass everyone in there," he says of his book.
In the story, Anthony talks to some classmates who also need glasses, which encourages him that wearing glasses is the best solution for his poor eyesight. As a result, he becomes excited to arrive home that day and pass on a note from the school nurse to his parents informing them that Anthony should see an optometrist.
"They need that positive reassurance because kids make fun of kids," Miller says.
Miller also purposely does not mention the word "doctor" anywhere in Anthony's story, anticipating a fear that some children have of doctors. He hopes that children will read the story with their parents to better understand how important their eyesight is to them and not to fear the optometrist.
After visiting the eye doctor for a first appointment, children should return at least once a year, Miller says, or as often as their doctor recommends.
It is not only about whether or not they need glasses, he says. It's about eye health.
"The eyes are the windows to the soul," he says, quoting the well-known mantra, which he has come to view in a new light upon witnessing how his customers react when they find a prescription that works for them. "Yep, it's true," he says.
"It's a rewarding job," he says. "It's the satisfaction you get from helping people get the gift of sight."
"The Adventures of Anthony as Seen through His Eyes," by David B. Miller, is available through the publisher, Dorrance Publishing Co. Inc., at 701 Smithfield St., Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or at www.dorrancebookstore.com.