Duration of Appointment
Ophthalmology appointments typically take longer than a routine doctor’s visit. Your child’s appointment may last two to 2½ hours. During the appointment, your child will receive a comprehensive eye exam, and will most likely have his or her eyes dilated with eye drops.
What to Bring
At the initial visit, the ophthalmologist will need to know about your child's general health. Be sure to tell the doctor or the clinical staff about your child's:
- Medical problems
- Surgical procedures
- Medications that your child may be taking
If your child has been previously treated with glasses or contact lenses, bring them to the examination. Also, bring the names and addresses of all physicians who may be treating your child; that way, the ophthalmologist can quickly share any important findings with your child’s other doctors.
We encourage you to stay with your child through the entire examination. We can examine infants and small children while they sit on a parent's lap. Older children are encouraged to sit in the exam chair by themselves.
Your child’s ophthalmologist / optometrist will carefully observe each eye as your child follows lights or toys. This gives a very good estimate of a child's visual function. Children who talk but cannot read or count may be asked to identify pictures of common objects.
Cooperative and verbal older children will have their vision tested using a computerized eye chart.
We may use lights to determine if your child's eyes are straight or turned. The reflection of the light from the surface of each eye is observed to help determine if the eye is pointed toward the light. The alignment of the eyes can also be checked by covering one eye and then the other. If the eyes move back and forth during this procedure, they are not aligned properly. Prisms can be used to measure the amount of misalignment.
Older children should be told that they may be given eye drops. These might sting a little and make their vision blurry for a while. The eye drops are used to dilate the pupils, which gives the ophthalmologist a better view of the structures inside the eye, such as the retina, optic nerve, and blood vessels. The drops may be given one or more times and take about 30 to 45 minutes to become fully effective.
These same eye drops also cause a temporary weakness of the eyes’ focusing muscles. This allows the ophthalmologist to determine if your child has a focusing or refractive error that requires glasses. Refractive errors include:
- Nearsightedness (myopia)
- Farsightedness (hyperopia)
- Distorted vision (astigmatism)
The doctor will use an ophthalmoscope, an instrument that shines a bright light into the eye, to look at the eye’s inner structures.