How to prepare for your child's first eye appointment
What should I bring to the first eye appointment?
This appointment is when your child and your child’s eye doctor get to know each other for the first time. It is important to bring the following to make the most out of the appointment.
- Your child’s current pair of glasses, if they wear glasses
- Any medications (eye drops, eye ointments, or oral medications) your child takes
- Your child’s medical records from other eye doctors
- Sunglasses for your child to wear after the visit
- Your child’s favorite toy or form of entertainment to watch while you are waiting and while the eyes are getting dilated (dilation can take 20-60 minutes)
- Snacks to keep your child happy, calm and still during the eye exam
Why dilate my child’s eyes?
Because children may not tell you everything that they are seeing or not seeing, pediatric eye doctors often dilate the eyes to get as much information as possible simply by looking at the eyes. Once the pupils are dilated, the eye doctor can examine the retinas and optic nerves, which can be affected by several eye diseases. The dilation also allows your eye doctor to calculate the glasses prescription your child may need as accurately as possible without necessarily asking your child for much input.
How long will it take to dilate my child’s eyes?
Once the eye drops are given, it takes 20-60 minutes for the pupils to dilate. The pupils then stay dilated for several hours. During this period, your child will have blurred vision up close and will be sensitive to bright lights. So bring those sunglasses!
Should I know anything else?
The first eye appointment is usually the longest eye appointment since the doctor will gather an extensive history and perform a complete eye exam. Because almost every child’s eyes are dilated during the first eye exam, it is important to set aside at least 2 hours for the first visit. This will allow you and the doctor to cover everything needed to provide your child with the best eye care possible, without rushing through parts of the exam. We want this to be an enjoyable experience for everyone, so come prepared!
You can use this “Journey through a Visit to the Eye Doctor” to prepare your child for the visit and discuss any questions they might have.