A child’s first eye test as told by Mum – Part 1

A child’s first eye test can be a little daunting for children and their parents, but we try to make it as comfortable as possible for all of our patients – especially the little ones.

Alfie, aged 3, came along for his first eye test with his mum Samantha last week. Samantha couldn’t find much information about when children’s eyes should be first examined or how optometrists measure children’s vision before she called the practice to book an appointment.

So, she offered to talk to us about Alfie’s experience so other parents and carers (and their children) will know what to expect.

Booking the test

Booking Alfie’s first eye test was really easy. I emailed Richard Petrie asking for an appointment, received a quick response with some time options and booked in. I was sent a text message reminder the day before Alfie’s appointment too.

On the day

When we arrived at the practice for Alfie’s eye test, his first priority was to go and play in the well-equipped children’s corner, so he instantly felt at home. While he was playing, I was asked to fill in an NHS form with basic information like name, DOB and address.

When Davina, the optometrist, called us in for our appointment, the first thing Alfie said was ‘You’re not going to put anything in my eyes are you?’ With children of Alfie’s age, they don’t necessarily have to have eye drops so Davina reassured him that she wouldn’t.

Initially, Alfie was quite alarmed by the large machine, but Davina told that it was just like the binoculars that pirates use on their ships, which instantly calmed him.

To begin with, Alfie sat on my knee but went and sat on the big chair when Davina asked him if he wanted to. She measured Alfie’s eyes and asked him to identify some colours on a bird.

Then Alfie’s sight was tested using a flip-style picture book of things like aeroplanes, cars, flowers and people, which all gradually got smaller.

After this, the lights were turned out so that red and green pictures could be projected onto a mirror. Alfie was asked what he could see. Davina put the machine in front of his eyes again and asked him again whilst assessing on his prescription. He wasn’t asked the ‘better or worse’ questions that adults get – just what he could see.

The final test was an eye health check-up. This is done by shining a light into our eyes, which Davina demonstrated on herself before she examined Alfie’s.

Davina told me that Alfie would need glasses as a corrective treatment method whilst his vision was still developing. He was given a sticker which he loved and Davina explained that the next step was to see Christine, the Dispensing Optician at Richard Petrie.

In part 2, Samantha will talk about choosing Alfie’s frames.

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