Whether you’re three years old or 33 years young, new situations are definitely less frightening when you know what to expect – it’s just human nature. So when it comes to children, it goes without saying that their first visit to a doctor such as an optometrist can feel intimidating, to say the least; taking in all the visual cues of the machinery, gadgets and flashing lights undoubtedly introduces skepticism and fear.
In this post, we’re going to cover what you should expect, as a parent, when bringing your child to a first-time optometrist visit, and this all begins with explaining to your child that he or she needs to be able to see well.
A good optometrist working with kids will use age-appropriate language to explain the various steps in the eye exam process, and this usually encompasses a brief overview of your child’s medical and vision history, a physical examination of the eyes and eyelids and a visual assessment of his or her clarity of vision. It is during this assessment that your daughter or son will be asked to view letters or images (though preschool-aged children may be asked to view several large capital Es that appear in different directions, with an eye doctor normally asking them to indicate, using their hands, which direction the arms of the Es point). If your daughter or son knows the letters of the alphabet, he or she will be asked to read the traditional Snellen eye chart.
To dilate your child’s pupils, an optometrist will use eye drops, as this helps the doctor study the retina (the light-sensing layer of cells that line the back of the eye), and although these drops aren’t designed to be uncomfortable or painful, they normally cause temporary blurry vision. Be sure you’re also aware that the eye doctor will also look in your child’s eye using a small light during the exam.
Some other things you can expect at your child’s first optometry visit include:
- Spending a little extra time in the waiting room completing paperwork; prepare for the wait by bringing a few toys or books from home to keep your little one(s) occupied.
- Having to hold him or her in your lap if there is nervousness or anxiety when coming into the exam room.
- Understanding that the American Optometric Association recommends that children visit the optometrist for the first time at six months old, followed by another visit at three, then bi-yearly visits from six to 18.
If your child is in need of a professional, thorough eye exam, don’t hesitate to call Quality Family Eye Care at (210) 996-2008 to schedule an appointment.