Eye exams for children begin as early as six months old when their pediatrician checks to ensure the baby's vision is sharpening properly. If there is an issue, your pediatrician may recommend taking your infant to an eye doctor at the time. But most children begin having regular eye exams around age three. By then, their eyes are typically finished growing and developing, and your eye doctor will be able to tell if your child will need eyeglasses before starting school. Unfortunately, new experiences, such as their first comprehensive eye exam, can be scary for three-year-old children. But there are several things that you can do to ease your child's mind and help ensure the appointment goes well.
Childhood fears of doctors and dentists are often actually fears of the unknown. So you don't want your child's first eye exam to be a surprise. Chances are, your three year old can already point to his or her eyes and knows that the eyes are used to see things. However, your toddler probably doesn't understand why it's important to have eye examinations. Unless your little one has a friend or family member who is blind, he or she probably assumes that everyone can see well. So before your child's appointment, spend some time educating your child about eyes.
- Draw pictures of people with and without glasses, and explain how some people need glasses so they can see.
- Draw pictures of eyes. Then, talk to your toddler about eye-related topics such as different eye colors and the function of your eyes.
- Read stories about children visiting the eye doctor.
- Watch television shows or cartoons about children getting eye exams.
- Explain why annual eye exams are important.
Role playing is a fun way to teach your toddler what to expect at his or her first eye exam. To get ready for your eye exam role playing game, all you need is a bottle of artificial tears, a low-powered flashlight, and some black-and-white pictures of shapes and animals. If you want to make your game even more realistic, wear a long white jacket like a doctor would; use cardboard and markers to make an eye chart; and lay out several pairs of children's sunglasses or play glasses so your child can "pick glasses frames" after his or her pretend eye exam — just be sure to explain to your child that not everyone gets to pick out designer eyeglasses after the appointment is over.
Talking to your child and role playing a visit to the eye doctor should put your little one's mind at ease. And if your child is relaxed and comfortable during the exam, there's no reason it shouldn't be a breeze. For more information, contact local professionals like Spectacle Shoppe, Inc.