During your visit your child will be seen by a number of experts including an Orthoptist. An Orthoptist is an allied health professional who specialises in eye movement problems and disorders that affect how the eyes work together. These conditions are typically diagnosed in childhood; therefore Orthoptists are uniquely qualified and experienced with assessing children. In countries such as the US or UK the Orthoptist, working hand in hand with an Ophthalmologist, commonly plays a central role in the evaluation and treatment of childhood eye disorders.
During the exam the Orthoptist may perform a range of tests to assess your child’s condition. These tests and examinations can be lengthy, and you should expect to spend several hours at the hospital.
When you come to the hospital, it will probably be necessary to dilate your child’s eyes. We do this for two reasons: First, the drops will temporarily paralyse the muscles in the eyes that do the focusing, allowing us to perform a refraction to see if there is any need for glasses. Secondly, the drops will enlarge the pupils and allow us to see inside and examine the health of the interior of the eye.
In order to do this we will need to put some eye drops into their eyes, which will make the pupil (black part of the eye) bigger. This does not hurt your child but may sting a bit while the drops are going in. The staff is very experienced in putting in eye drops and care will be taken to minimise any discomfort or anxiety this may cause. It may take anywhere between 30-45 minutes for the drops to work and the eyes to become dilated (get bigger). For children with dark eyes it may be necessary to put more drops in and can take up to 60 minutes.
It may take several hours for the effects of the drops to wear off and occasionally the dilation may last until the following day. While the eyes are dilated your child may experience blurry vision and increased sensitivity to light. We therefore recommend bringing sunglasses or a hat on the day of the appointment.
This test measures whether your child is longsighted, shortsighted, or has astigmatism. Your child’s eyes will need to be dilated using the eye drops as described above. In order to complete the test, the optometrist, orthoptist, or ophthalmologist will use different types of lenses which are held up close to the eyes and will then shine a little light in each eye. They will then be able to tell you what strength of glasses your child needs to wear.
Once your child is old enough, a refraction test will be able to be performed without using the eye drops – this is called a subjective refraction.
- Your child’s glasses, if they wear them.
- Any relevant medical reports.
- Any medication your child is currently taking.
- Sunglasses or a hat (if dilated your child’s eyes will be sensitive