What Techniques Put Children at Ease During Eye Exams?


    What Techniques Put Children at Ease During Eye Exams?

    To uncover the best practices for making children comfortable during eye exams, we've gathered insights from professionals like a Pediatric Optometrist, who recommends turning tests into games. Alongside expert advice, we present additional answers displaying a variety of creative techniques. From using visual breathing cues to adopting a playful tone, these strategies can transform a child's eye exam experience and establish positive associations with eye health early.

    • Turn Tests Into Games
    • Find Common Interests
    • Narrate Soothing Stories
    • Use Visual Breathing Cues
    • Allow Comfort Items
    • Play Calm Ambient Music
    • Adopt a Playful Tone

    Turn Tests Into Games

    Children love games! When I enter the exam room, I introduce myself and say, 'We are going to play some games today!' I try to use no technical jargon. For visual acuity, I say we are going to look at some letters, and if they are younger, I use the HOTV chart and say we’re going to play a matching game. After visual acuity testing, I immediately go into stereopsis testing—children love the big 'sunglasses' and are fascinated by the 3D images. It really engages them and draws them into playing more 'games' (testing). My instruments are 'flashlights,' my occluder is a 'big spoon'—use your imagination and think like a kid!

    Linda ChousPediatric Optometrist, Twin Cities Eye Care Consultants

    Find Common Interests

    I like to ask them if they have any pets. I tell them about my cats and show them pictures. Sometimes, I'll share my kids' ages and the sports they do that are the same as my patients' sports. Talking about swim meets, regattas, and teachers they have had makes the child more comfortable with me. It's helpful to find a common interest and talk about it.

    Michelle RahimianOwner of Lunette Optic, Lunette Optic

    Narrate Soothing Stories

    Telling a soothing story during an eye exam has been proven to be effective for keeping children tranquil. As the optometrist focuses on evaluating the child's vision, a calm narrative can capture the child's imagination. This technique transports the child's mind to a place far from the exam room, thereby reducing anxiety.

    The soothing rhythm and familiarity of a well-told story provide a comforting distraction. To help a child through their next eye exam, consider preparing a favorite story to tell them.

    Use Visual Breathing Cues

    Children often respond positively to visual stimuli, so implementing visual breathing cues can help them relax during an eye exam. This method involves showing them how to synchronize their breathing with a visual aid, such as a breathing bubble or slowly moving object. The regular inhale and exhale rhythm that follows can be instrumental in reducing stress levels.

    This can be particularly effective for children who might be initially intimidated by the clinical environment. Try using this calming technique with visual cues to make the next eye exam a more serene experience.

    Allow Comfort Items

    Bringing comfort items into the unfamiliar setting of an eye clinic can play a significant role in soothing a child. A beloved stuffed animal or a small blanket provides a sense of security and normalcy among the unfamiliar sights and sounds. It can serve as a silent encouragement that they are safe and cared for during the procedure.

    The tactile comfort from holding their favorite item can help mitigate fears and promote calmness.

    Play Calm Ambient Music

    Environment can profoundly affect anxiety; thus, playing calm, ambient background music during an eye exam can be very advantageous. The sound of gentle, instrumental melodies can create a tranquil atmosphere that counteracts the clinical and often sterile surroundings.

    The rhythm and flow of the music serve to relax both mind and body, making the child more receptive and cooperative during the examination. To create a more soothing atmosphere, consider playing some ambient music.

    Adopt a Playful Tone

    Optometrists can employ a gentle, playful tone of voice to transform a clinical eye exam into an engaging experience for children. A friendly, encouraging voice can reassure a child and make them feel comfortable and safe. By using light-hearted language and a warm tone, the practitioner can guide the examination in a way that seems more like play and less like a medical procedure.

    This tactic can be especially helpful in establishing a positive association with eye health for the child. Use a playful tone to keep your patient calm and happy during their eye exam.