How do you know how often you should get your child’s eyes checked by an eye specialist—an optometrist or ophthalmologist?
The American Optometric Association gives a timetable for visits according to whether your child is asymptomatic (has no apparent vision issues) or at-risk for vision issues.
Your pediatrician may have more specific guidelines, as well.
In general, though, you should see an eye doctor within the 6- to 12-month window.
After that, an annual visit is recommended for most children.
It’s tempting to put it off if your child gets stressed about such encounters.
However, most common childhood vision issues are much more treatable the earlier they are detected.
Use these tips for making eye exams less stressful and keep that important appointment.
As a parent, you know that your children watch you and pick up signals. If you get stressed about a visit to the eye doctor, they will take that in and get stressed too.
Relax for both of you.
Knowing what to expect can ease a child’s anxiety. The big machines and odd tests in the eye doctor’s office may be intimidating, so prepare them for what they’ll see inside and talk about it.
- Check out a library book about going to the eye doctor.
- Play pretend eye doctor at home and go through the motions.
- Search videos on YouTube of kids visiting eye doctors
- See if your child’s favorite cartoon character has an episode about an optometrist. The PBS series Arthur covered the title character getting glasses in an episode entitled “Arthur’s Eyes.”
Talk to your child’s eye doctor ahead of time, and see if you can have your annual eye exam before they do. That way your child sees you go through the process and may be more comfortable.
If they don’t have time for a whole exam, try sitting in the chair for just one part of a test and your child might be ready to jump in.
4. Bring A Comfort Object Or Toy
The feeling of security is just what that security blanket or stuffed animal is for. Call on its comforting capacity for times like this when your child may need a dollop of extra courage.
5. Take A Tour Of The Doctor’s Office
When you check in, instead of waiting around and your child having a chance to get antsy, ask if you can walk around the office and take a peek, or better yet, see if someone has an extra moment to show you the fancy equipment.
6. Start Early
If your child is accustomed to going to the eye doctor every year, it won’t be a big deal.
Getting your eyes checked is routine.
Keep it feeling that way by starting them as babies and sticking to an annual check-up.
7. Schedule Your Child’s Appointments With The Same Eye Doctor
That way, they know what and whom to expect.
Managing anxiety is all about minimizing uncertainty. The more certain your child is about what’s going to happen, the better. They’ll get comfortable with a certain doctor, and that helps, especially if that doctor builds a rapport with children.
If they are going to a new place or new doctor for the first time, see if you can set up a meet-and-greet ahead of time.
At Bard Optical, we know how important your child’s eye health is. “Vision for Life” means starting off with a good foundation in childhood. We’ll partner with you in making positive experiences for your child at their first eye exam.