Tips for Your Child’s First Eye Exam
We all know some of the first health measures in a child’s life: height and weight, the first teeth appearing, first steps, and more. Don’t forget about your child’s eye health. Even if their first eye exam isn’t top of mind like a general doctor’s visit, it still can be an important part of overall health.
When Should I Take My Child to Get an Eye Exam?
If your child is seeing the world “just fine,” that’s great. However, if their vision is impaired, clarity from corrective lenses might be wonderful for everyday activities. When deciding when to schedule the first eye exam, consider the whole family’s health: If you have other family members with eye issues, you might want to set up an exam when your child is a toddler. Otherwise, just before kindergarten is a reasonable time for the first eye exam.
What Are Common Eye Problems for Children?
Amblyopia, commonly known as "lazy eye" is a condition where one eye is weaker than the other. It can be a problem for your child’s depth perception, but a lazy eye is correctable with eyewear or even eye drops. Another common eye problem is crossed eyes, when one or both eyes turn inward or outward. This can be treated by an ophthalmologist while your child is young to prevent further issues.
Tips to Get Your Child Ready for Their Eye Exam
If your child has no problem with regular doctor visits, the eye doctor could be a piece of cake. No matter what, be honest about what will happen—and why—so your child trusts the process and knows in advance. If they are nervous for the eye exam, help them to understand that the reason you are visiting the doctor is so they can see better, especially the things they love, like pets and games!
Here are things you could tell your child before the visit—feel free to adapt to your voice and your child’s personality:
- The eye doctor is going to ask you to look at things, like toys or shapes, and answer how well you can see them. You might get to hold your hands up to show what the shapes look like. The doctor might have you do the same thing with one eye at a time, like a pirate!
- The doctor will also look into your eyes with a flashlight to make sure they are strong and healthy, just like you!
- Here’s the best part: the doctor will help us find out if there’s something that will help you see better. You might be surprised at how different the world looks with clearer eyesight!
Tips for the Grownups Before the Eye Exam
You might need a few tips about what to expect at an eye exam, too! Before you go, make sure you have your child’s medical records, including current prescriptions, conditions, medical history, and allergies. Of course, make sure you talk with your child about what will be happening, as outlined above. It might even end up being a fun adventure!
Parents are the first line of defense for the health of their child’s vision. Make preventative care part of your child’s health milestones to support eye health for life.
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