Preparing Your Little One For Their First Eye Exam
Most children don't take too kindly to someone poking and prying on them. This is true when it comes to their entire body, but particularly their eyes. The eyes are a sensitive area for anyone, so you can't exactly blame them if they're in protest during their first eye exam. Having your own practice or mock visit at home can help prepare your child. Children often find comfort in things that are familiar. If your child has been exposed to some of the processes that will be performed during the exam, they may have less anxiety during their visit.
If your child is able to speak, try making your very own practice eye chart. Take a piece of white paper and print different shapes and letters on the paper. Give your child a large spoon to cover one of their eyes and have the child read the letters off the chart.
Move the chart to different parts of the room, just like the doctor will during the real visit. Explain to your child that reading the chart helps the doctor determine how well they can see, in case they need glasses.
For the physical exam, if your child has a toy medical kit, look for their ophthalmoscope or otoscope. Pretend that you're shinning it on your child's eyes and examining them. You can talk about the color of their eyes, the shape of their eyes and any other characteristics.
After you've given your child a practice exam, allow the child to perform an exam on you. Ask the child to tell you about the color and shape of your eyes. Explain to your child that they will get to have another exam once they arrive at the doctor's office.
In order for the doctor to get a better view of your child's eyes, they will probably need to be dilated. Incorporating this into your practice visit is helpful. Grab a bottle of eye drops and a doll. Explain to your child what you're doing and why it's important. Lay the doll down and pretend that you're dropping the solution in their eyes.
Next, allow your child to lie down. Tell your child that each time you say "drop," they should blink. While this won't allow them to experience the sensation of the drops, it at least makes it a familiar process.
Having a practice visit at home won't just help prepare your child for their visit, but it's also a fun way to teach your child important facts about their eyes. Contact a child-friendly optometrist, such as Harpers Point Eye, to schedule their appointment.