Dear Doctors of our Children’s Eyes

tjmtoms’ post about their first eye exam got me thinking again about how tough these eye exams can be, not just for our kids, but for us, as well.  And I’m wondering if there are things that could make it easier for us.  What suggestions would you give an eye doctor who was going to specialize in pediatrics?  These could be things that your current clinic does really well, or things that you think would make it work better.

But first, I have to start be saying that I can only imagine how difficult it must be to work with such small kids, who really can’t tell you what’s going on, and don’t understand why they are having these exams.  I know I really appreciate the kindness and patience of Zoe’s ophthalmologist.

So here are a few things I can think of that have helped (or would help) with eye exams:

  1. It’s really, really hard to focus and absorb what we’re being told when our child is crying.  And unfortunately, eye exams are often upsetting to our kids.  Give us 5 minutes to quiet our child down before trying to explain what’s going on with their eyes, or if that’s not possible, give us a phone number and time that we could call and discuss it when we’re not so distracted.
  2. Related to that.  This is often a whole lot for us to absorb, especially at our first exams when we probably weren’t expecting to find out that our child had a vision problem.  Most of these problems aren’t in family health books, and we probably don’t know anyone who’s children had these problems, and the information on the Internet can be pretty contradictory and frankly, frightening.  Giving us as much detail as we can understand, using the correct terminology is so helpful.  In fact, having a sheet or brochure with explanations of various terms and aspects that we could look over later would be extremely helpful.
  3. Have a list of local or trusted online glasses providers.  Again, we probably don’t have friends that we can turn to for a referral for glasses for babies.  And our preferred optical shop may not have the frames or the expertise.
  4. (This one is a little less serious…)  If you’re going to give our kids small toys as favors after the exam, can they be age appropriate?  Being told to cut out the bead eyes off of the finger puppet is, well, I given that we’re at an eye clinic, I guess it’s fitting, but it still feels a little weird.

So what other suggestions would you have?  And what about for parents taking their child to their first eye exam – any suggestions for parents to make it easier?

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8 responses to “Dear Doctors of our Children’s Eyes

  1. The part about getting stuff in writing is key for medical treatment in general, I’ve found. Even without a crying kid, if a doctor mentions something I’m not familiar with (drug, diagnosis, etc.) I have a lot of trouble remembering its name or what it means later.

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  2. My #1……Devote time to answering questions! Strabi-what? Anisometropi-who? I don’t know about you guys, but what bothered me the most about our first visit to the PO was the casualness with which our particular situation was addressed. Up until that first exam, I wasnt a font of knowledge on anything eye related (other than knowing where my local lenscrafters was), and certainly uneducated in the diagnoses we walked away with. I feel, that though our respective PO’s may be expert..there is a need for a somewhat better bedside manner. Particularly so where complex issues are involved. A friendly ear, clear instructions on where to find information, time to answer questions..however basic.

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  3. I agree with most of these tips. I had the worst time trying to find an optical place that sold baby/toddler frames. We shopped 6 shore before finding one. We were even told that they do not make glasses that small by one big box chain.

    We can help too though. Once I found my optical store, I got a bunch of cards and included them with a recommendation to my PO. Now if someone else asks where to find frames she has an answer for them.

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  4. I love your blog sooo much!!! Your blog was one of the first ones I read all the time when I first started blogging….it was so great to get into the thoughts of what the parents are going through during their child’s eye exam….and afterward.

    By reading your posts and your thoughts it has really helped me to connect with the moms and dads of my child patients. It was so interesting to read that the parents may feel guilty or sad that their child may have a vision problem and they are so not used to seeing their sweet child in glasses. It takes a lot of getting used to. I can relate to them so much better – after I read your blog posts.

    I am a huge advocate of getting a child’s eyes examined (not just screened) as early as possible! I have seen WAY too many children that pass pediatrician or school vision screenings and they have significant eye health or vision issues that were undetected by the screening.

    I love your idea of writing down common terms. That is really a great idea!!!!

    Keep up the great blogging!

    ~ Dr Dawn Bearden
    Visionary Eyecare

    http://www.VisionaryEyecareOnline.com
    http://www.VisionaryEyecareBLOG.com

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  5. I absolutely agree! Doctors NEED to take the time to answer questions! I was also annoyed at the casualness of the PO. This is my child and her vision we are talking about! When I asked about the long term prognosis, what to expect when she is older etc, our doctor was almost annoyed saying ” I wont even breach that subject with you as she is only one!” but I needed to know what to expect. I felt silly for asking when I should not have. I have seen two PO’s to date and both were very similar in their approach so I was not happy with either and am thinking of a third opinion. They need to remember this is all new and very scary for a parent.

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  6. Ann-

    Thank you so much for your email….it was sweet of you to think of me when the lady in Costco said to you: “yeah, they’re supposed to get their eyes checked at 6 months, right?”

    And then you wrote to me: “So the message is starting to get out. Even if it’s slowly. But it made me think of you and this email”. That is soooo great that parents are finally starting to be told that eye exams BY AN EYE DOCTOR are very important for children and the first one is recommended at 6 months.

    A child should DEFINITELY see an Eye Doctor for an eye exam no later than 4 or 5…a Pediatrician’s vision screen and/or a school vision screen is NOT an eye exam. They miss sooooo much – its scary.

    Keep up the great job with spreading the word to get childrens’ eyes examined early and often!

    Take care-
    Dr Bearden

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  7. Pingback: Dear doctors of our children's eyes - Posts from Little Four Eyes - Children's Eye Foundation Forum·

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