Preparing Your Children for Their first Eye Exam

Children learn from an early age that visits to the doctor can sometimes be a painful and frightening experience. Preparing your child for their first eye exam is important to help allay fears and ensure the exam is a success.

retinal scan

Color optomap image of a healthy retina of a 3-year old.

To begin, take a few minutes to sit with your child and explain that the eye doctor will show them pictures, letters or shapes on the wall and ask them to identify them. Let them know that eye exams are not painful, but that the doctor may put drops into their eyes, which might sting a little bit. Being open and honest with your child about what to expect is the best way to help them feel secure.


Discovering potential eye health issues early on in a child’s life is critical to providing effective treatment. In your child’s first year of life, doctors will be looking for conditions, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, amblyopia, astigmatism, light response, eye movement and alignment and other general conditions that affect the eye.


For children aged three to five, doctors will conduct a visual exam to check for the above issues, as well as a vision screening to determine your child’s ability to see the form and detail of objects or letters. Your doctor will use pictures, letters or possibly the “tumbling E game” where the capital letter “E” is shown in various positions with your child using their fingers to show the doctor which way the open spaces on the letter are pointing.


The most common eye health condition in children is amblyopia, also known as a lazy eye. This ailment causes one eye to see less clearly than the other. When diagnosed early, this condition is entirely treatable.


Visit the Optos website, or contact us to learn about our diagnostic and treatment devices for eye health providers featuring ultra-widefield retinal imaging technology.