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How to Prepare Your Child for an Eye Exam

How to Prepare Your Child for an Eye Exam

How to Prepare Your Child for an Eye Exam

Is your child feeling anxious about an upcoming eye doctor visit? If so, there are a couple of things you can do as a parent to put their worries to rest. 

In this blog, we’ll cover the best ways on how to prepare your child for an eye exam and ensure they come through our doors with a better understanding of what’s to come. 

At For Eyes, we have the pleasure of seeing thousands of young people each year, and through the years, we’ve gained some key insight into what parents can do to help their kids combat anxiety at the eye doctor.

Read on for our top tips! We hope they help.

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How to Prepare Your Child for an Eye Exam

As parents, we naturally want to be there for our kids and help them feel at ease during important appointments, such as eye doctor visits. Below is how to prepare your child for an eye exam and help keep those alligator tears away:

Step #1: Let your child know that the eye doctor is there to help. 

The optometrist will try to make sure your child feels comfortable and discuss any concerns. If your child is old enough, the optometrist may ask them questions. Otherwise, they will turn to you, as the parent, to see what is concerning you.

What should your child expect at the eye doctor? During the exam, they will ask your child to name letters and other items. They may also add drops to your child’s eyes before performing tests to check your child’s vision. 

Step #2: Explain the tests. 

When taking your child to an eye exam, tell your child what tests the doctor will run. One of these tests is a visual acuity test. During the visual acuity test, the doctor will see how well your child sees close up and far away. 

A pupil test will also be done to find out how your child’s eyes react to bright lights. During an eye movement test, the doctor will move an object in front of your child’s eyes to see what the eyes do. This is what is included in a child's eye exam, and it’s nothing to fear.

Step #3: Take their favorite stuffed animal with you. 

Just as you’d take Lucky the Dog grocery shopping with you and your kiddos, you wouldn’t want to leave him at home during an eye appointment. 

Let your child know that it’s okay to have their comfort object tag along so that they feel safer when seeing the eye doctor.

Step #4: Schedule the eye exam before or after nap time. 

If your child naps from 12:30 p.m. until 2:30 p.m. every day, your child’s eye exam shouldn’t be at 1 p.m. Otherwise, you could risk a case of the afternoon crankies.

Our suggestion? Schedule it a few hours before or after nap time, and make sure they have a full belly when they come in to prevent them from being too hungry to concentrate on the eye tests.

Step #5: Clarify how often they need to go.

Set expectations by letting your child know how often they should go to the eye doctor. We suggest taking your child in for their first eye exam at 6 months old and once again between ages 3 and 5

From ages 6 to 18, we recommend your child has an annual eye exam to see if their vision has changed.

How do you assess vision in a child?

That depends on your child’s age. For infants, we may flash a light in each eye to assess their responses. We may also move the flashlight or another object back and forth in front of their eyes to assess their eye-tracking skills. 

The eye tests get more complex with age. Find out more about child’s eye tests here

Can I test my child’s eyesight at home?

Absolutely! This is an underrated way to help your child feel more comfortable at an eye exam. First, print out a vision chart online, and attach it to your wall. 

Next, have your child cover one eye at a time, and ask them to read different lines on the vision chart. This will give them a better idea of what to expect at the eye exam. 

Summary: How Should You Prepare Your Child for an Eye Exam?

When you prepare your child, the eye exam becomes easy. Letting your child know what to expect at the child’s eye exam will alleviate the pressure. 

Here is how to prepare your child for an eye exam:

  • Explain to your child that the doctor will do everything possible to help them feel comfortable.
  • Inform your child of what will happen while they are there. 
  • Encourage your child to bring a favorite stuffie. 
  • Avoid scheduling the eye exam at nap time. 
  • Tell your child that the vision tests are standard and that they should happen regularly to promote healthy vision.

Assuring your child that you will be by their side throughout the exam can also bring them comfort. 


This blog was originally published on November 13, 2019, and expanded in July 2022. 


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