Even though your family's pediatrician should check your child's eyes during his or her annual well checkup, the American Optometric Association recommends that children have their first eye exam by age three. However, taking a three-year-old to the eye doctor can be stressful. After all, you never know how a toddler will react to the new experience, and the last thing you want is for your child to develop a fear of the eye doctor during his or her first comprehensive exam. Check out these tips to learn how you can make your child's first eye doctor appointment go smoothly.
Teach Your Child About Eyes
Before you take your child to the eye doctor, teach your child about eyes. Most likely, your three-year-old can point to his or her eyes when asked, and may even understand that eyes are sued to see. However, your child probably doesn't understand why having an annual eye screening is important. Of course, you'll want to keep things simple. However, there are several ways that you can teach your child about the function of the eyes and the importance of going to the eye doctor so that he or she understands what will happen during an eye exam.
- Read books to your child about going to the eye doctor.
- Tell your toddler about how going to the eye doctor helps keep his or her eyes healthy.
- Watch TV shows or cartoons about going to the eye doctor.
- Draw pictures of people with your toddler -- some with glasses and some without. Then, discuss the people in your drawings with your toddler. Talk about each person's eyes, how the eyes help that person see, and how some of the people in your drawings wear glasses.
Role Play Your Visit
Most of the time, when a child is scared of the dentist, doctor, or eye doctor, it's because the child doesn't know what to expect during the visit. So, prepare your child by trying a few role-playing activities.
- Talk about the eye drops that the eye doctor uses to dilate the eyes. Make sure your child understands that the drops don't hurt. You can even practice putting drops in your child's eyes using artificial tears.
- Discuss how the eye's pupils change size to adjust to the light. When you're discussing the way that the pupils change size, let your child shine a low-powered flashlight in your eyes to watch your pupils shrink and dilate.
- Hold up pictures in front of your child, and have your child tell you what is in the picture while covering one eye with his or her hand.
Making an Appointment
When you make your child's first eye doctor appointment, choose a time of day when your child is typically alert and active. You should avoid scheduling the appointment near your child's nap time or mealtime so that he or she won't be cranky during the eye exam.
As long as your child knows what to expect during the appointment, and you schedule the eye exam around his or her schedule, your child's first eye exam doesn't need to be a stressful event. Relax and have fun while you're teaching your child about the eye doctor, one like Webster Eye Care, and chances are, your little one will end up thinking that eye doctor's appointments are kind of fun.