While all children should have a basic eye exam before they start school, if your child shows signs of a possible visual impairment such as frequent headaches or eye rubbing or difficulty reading and writing, you may want to schedule them for a comprehensive eye exam. Unlike a basic eye exam, which often checks for nearsightedness or farsightedness, a comprehensive exam uses several tests to make sure your child's eyes can properly focus, work together for depth perception, and track objects. A comprehensive eye exam can let you know if your child should enroll in visual therapy to help correct vision problems. 

A comprehensive eye exam can take more time than a basic eye exam and involves several more tests. After signing your child up for a comprehensive eye exam, there are some things you should do to prepare them for their exam. 

Research the Various Types of Tests 

A comprehensive eye exam usually consists of around 12 different types of tests. While you may have experienced some of these tests and the machinery they use in a general eye exam, there may be extra machinery that you and your child are not used to when they go in for their comprehensive exam. In order to make your child more comfortable, you should research each of the exams and consider looking up photographs of the machinery involved to show your child. This can make them feel less scared when they enter the office for their exam. 

Additionally, you should encourage your child to ask questions when they do not understand what a test is for or when a piece of equipment makes them nervous. 

Practice Giving Your Child Eye Drops 

Towards the end of the exam, your child's optometrist may need to put several types of eye drops into your child's eyes. For example, they may use eye drops that numb the eye and dye it yellow, or they may use eye drops that will dilate the pupils. If your child does not have much experience with eye drops, you may want to practice putting plain saline drops into their eyes a few times before their appointment. This can help reduce their fear and allow them to practice not blinking while the eye drops are being applied. 

Discuss Your Child's Visual Experience With Them 

Knowing exactly what types of vision trouble your child has can help your child's optometrist know which problems to look for during a comprehensive exam. You should ask your child and their teachers about any signs of a vision problem they may have noticed. For example, headaches, trouble concentrating in school, trouble reading, or blurry vision are all things you should inform your child's optometrist about. This quiz can help your child identify some visual problems that they may not be aware of. 

Make Sure Your Child Is Dressed Comfortably and Is Fed Before the Exam 

Comprehensive eye exams can take a considerable amount of time, often around an hour or more. It is important that your child is comfortable for the entire exam so they can relax and concentrate on the exam. You should encourage your child to wear loose, comfortable clothing and to bring a sweater in case they get cold during the exam. You should also make sure that they have a meal or a snack before the exam. You may also want to pack a water bottle or juice box in case your child gets thirsty during the exam. 

A comprehensive eye exam can be intimidating for a young child. However, if you prepare your child for their eye exam, they will be less likely to feel nervous or scared during their exam. Find out more here.