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Eye Exam for a Toddler?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
My DS has been squinting a lot. We're not sure if it's a vision thing or some sort of tic, it almost looks involuntary. We thought we'd start with the simplest explanation and have his eyes checked. He does have some neurological issues, but I really didn't want to go to the nuero to have him tell us to get an eye exam.

Anyway, the eye exam is tomorrow and I'm wondering what it will entail. He is 2 1/2 and has SPD so I'm worried about him not reacting well to all of it, especially since he does not like his head touched. Anyone with experience or advice?

post #2 of 11
when my lo transitioned to preschool at 3, just last month. The Health department did their own eye exam and my son did really well. The lady held three smal red balls of three different sizes. She would drop the ball incospiciously and then would watch if my son's eyes flickered. If they did he saw the ball and if not she tried again and then again. It was really neat to see. The balls got pretty small. I pretty sure the eye doctor wouldn't perform this test, but maybe you could bring it up as a another way of testing his eyes if he doesn't do well with an actual exam. good luck
post #3 of 11
My son was three when he had his first eye exam, which included dialating the pupils to take measurements. The drops sting. I'm not sure if your opthamologist is planning to use this approach, but you may want to be prepared for that possibility by bringing a comfort item for your kiddo in case they do need to use the drops. (I don't think it's a terribly painful procedure, just unpleasant!)
post #4 of 11
My daughters both wear glasses. They both got them right after they turned two.

With my oldest she had a pretty severe cross so it was obvious that there was an issue. My younger one had to be up close to things to see them so I mentioned it to the ped. She had us get her eyes checked out.

For both of their initial appointments were pretty similar. (changed doctors for the second one) They dilated their eyes and held some prisms up to their eyes to see how they focus. They played Sesame street or cartoons on a video for them to watch their eyes when they was intent on something. They waved squeeky toys around their heads to see if they would follow them with her eyes. They briefly shined a light into their eyes. Except for putting the drops in their eyes to dilate them it was not traumatizing. At that age I nursed both of them after the drops were put into their eyes and they calmed right down.
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks very much for the info. I am pretty sure the drops will result in a giant meltdown. He got soap in his eye the other day and the meltdown that resulted was of epic proportions. I'm talking 40 minutes of screaming. Now these won't hurt like that, but he's just really not into things going near his face. Hopefully, the Optometrist is understanding and patient.
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
It was awful. We couldn't complete the exam.
post #7 of 11
I'm sorry it went badly. It took a couple of attempts for my son's first eye exam as well. DS was 2 years and a few months the first time we tried an eye exam. He has ASD and was non-verbal at the time. He was referred to the Pediatric Ophthamologist for possible albinism.

Our first attmept at an exam was terrible. DS started out OK, but once they dilated his eyes he would not cooperate at all. We ended up getting a prescription for the eyedrops and an appointment to try again. We wrote a social story about getting an eye exam and read it with DS. And we practiced giving DS's Teddy Bear an eye exam, using plastic magnifying glasses as the lenses. For the next appointment we gave DS the dilating eyedrops at home (the evening before and again the morning of the exam). That was a difficult task that took both DH and I to accomplish and DS was quite upset by it. But by the time we got to the PO's office, he had calmed down. We brought Teddy Bear to the appointment and the PO did a quick exam of Teddy Bear's eyes. (Teddy Bear has good vision.) Then he did the exam on DS eyes and it went very well. The PO wasn't able to all the tests he wanted, but we discovered that DS has severe vision problems and needs glasses.

DS goes to the PO several times a year. He's 5.5 now and we still dilate his eyes at home. Getting the drops in is still a struggle, but at least he doesn't blame them on the PO and his staff. Every time we go, DS is able to do more of the exam. At his most appointment, the PO was able to determine that DS does indeed have albinism and this is the root cause of his complex vision problems.

My point is, don't give up and don't dwell on this one bad appointment. It's really hard, but with time your son will learn to handle the eye exam better.
post #8 of 11
I wonder if you might have a different experience with a different eye doctor? There's a program called infantsee (http://www.infantsee.org/) that screens babies and toddlers for eye problems. There are doctors associated with it all over the country and the web site has a directory. They provide this as a free service, but I'm suggesting it because these eye doctors have expertise working with very young children and use child-friendly techniques in their exams.

I'll tell you what the exams were like to see if it might work for your son. My children were screened at 7 months and 17 months and the exams went well. The doctor interacted well with the kids and was very realistic about what she could and couldn't do (no eye drops, for example). The kids sat on my lap the whole time. She gave my son (17 months) the remote for the slide projector and he clicked the buttons randomly. This made different images appear and she watched his reaction to see if he could focus on the tiniest ones. She also used this time to look into his eyes and examine his retina with a hand held magnifying glass. He had no idea his eyes were being tested, he just thought he hit the jackpot for finally having access to the remote! She was able to test his tracking, basic eye health, and enough visual acuity to determine if there was a problem.

We're taking DD next week; she's much older so she'll probably have a more thorough exam. I can let you know what that is like afterwards.
post #9 of 11
I'm sorry the exam did not go well. My DD, now 6, has been visually impaired (20/400) since birth and has SPD. It has always been a challenge to have her eyes examined. It took a couple tries, but we now have a wonderful ophthalmologist who understands that traditional ways may not yield the best results. For the more intense eye exams, we have opted to have her sedated in the hospital so they could get a clearer picture of what is going on with her retina. If there is a SPD support group in your area, you could connect them and see if they have any experience with good ophthalmologists. Or if you have a center for the visually impaired in your area, they are an excellent resource for referrals.
post #10 of 11
Originally Posted by Stephenie View Post
It was awful. We couldn't complete the exam.

I'm sorry it didn't go well this time.
post #11 of 11

Refuse the dilation! I'm not ok with putting chemicals in my dd's eyes. They can still do an exam if they will. The dr. gave me grief about it but I stood my ground and my dd got her glasses. I don't believe in dilation. 

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