How to Prepare Your Child for a Pediatric Eye Exam

To ensure your child’s eyes are healthy and functioning optimally, Benjamin Optical provides customized pediatric eye exams starting when your child is one year old.

Building a solid foundation with a skilled pediatric optometrist like Sheldon Retkinski, OD through early eye exams will not only protect your child’s long-term vision and eye health but will also increase the likelihood your child will stay on track with routine eye exams into adulthood.

You can start preparing your child for an eye exam in advance to make the experience a smooth and positive one. Below, we’ll take a closer look at why pediatric eye exams are important, what you can expect, and how to get your child ready for their exam.

The importance of pediatric eye exams

A pediatric eye exam is a routine part of preventive health care. You should schedule routine eye exams for your child, even if they aren’t showing signs of vision problems or complaining of eye-related symptoms.

Generally, kids need their eyes examined by age one and then every two to three years afterward. They also need an eye exam if they start showing symptoms of vision or eye problems, such as squinting, excessive blinking, or poor performance in school.

If your child is diagnosed with an existing eye issue, like recurrent pink eye, or needs eyewear to correct nearsightednessfarsightedness, or strabismus, they may need more frequent eye evaluations with Dr. Retkinski.

What to expect during a pediatric eye exam

During your child’s pediatric eye exam, Dr. Retkinski evaluates their visual acuity through a series of noninvasive tests. He also assesses your child’s eye movements and the reaction of their pupils to bright lights.

To check their eye health, Dr. Retkinski evaluates the surface of your child’s eye to identify abnormalities like corneal scratches or signs of infection.

When your child is very young and can’t answer questions about their vision or eye function, Dr. Retkinski specializes in several techniques to complete his assessment that don’t require your child’s response. He substitutes adult eye charts with pediatric charts that feature pictures rather than numbers and letters.

While the tests and overall exam is noninvasive, it can be overwhelming for your child to experience for the first time.

Getting ready for a pediatric eye exam

Here are some tips to help you prepare your child for their first visit:

Practice at home

Children enjoy interacting with their parents, so prior to their first pediatric eye exam, you can practice a visit as part of your play. Take turns acting as the patient and the doctor, reading words on a chart, or looking at pictures together.

Never use a bright light or any unsafe objects near your face or your child. Focus instead on recreating the exam experience by sitting with your child in a chair and using positive reinforcement about why the exam is important.

Schedule at the right time

As you know your child best, schedule their appointment at the time of day when they are most agreeable. Avoiding scheduling an exam before breakfast or lunch when your child may be irritable and hungry, or around their regular naptime.

Bring a favorite toy

A favorite stuffed animal or toy can help your child feel more secure in the exam chair. Let them choose their friend for the day and bring along a snack to keep your child occupied in the waiting room.

Allow conversation between the doctor and your child

Dr. Retkinski has extensive experience in working with children. During a pediatric eye exam, he enjoys talking to your kids and getting to learn more about them. This interaction also allows him to determine the best way to communicate with your child.

Resist the urge to answer every question on their behalf. While you can expect to provide invaluable information about your child’s overall health and medical history, spontaneous conversation can provide Dr. Retkinski with important details about their needs.

To schedule a pediatric eye exam, call the Benjamin Optical office nearest you, or book an appointment online today. 

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