Although summer vacation has basically just begun for children in the Northeast, many children in the South, among other areas, are getting ready to return to school. For many, this will include seeing an optometrist for the first time — something both young children and O.D.s themselves can feel anxious over. With this in mind, three optometrists who examine a lot of children provide examination tricks to allay the fears of young children and, thus, facilitate their examination.
1. Smile to Build a Rapport
If you don’t establish a rapport with young children, you’re not going to get anywhere with the examination, says Dominick Maino, O.D., M.Ed., F.A.A.O., F.C.O.V.D.-A, and Illinois College of Optometry professor.
“So, the one big trick is to smile, which engages the patient. I smile a lot. I laugh and I joke because I want them [children] to know I am not a threat,” he explains. “And you know what? It works. My students tend to be very serious when they are doing an evaluation, and I tell them, ‘if I was a kid and I looked at that serious face, I wouldn’t let you near me.’”
Dr. Carlson using a handheld microscope during examination. Photo courtesy: Dr. Carlson.
2. Use Red/Green Glasses for Eye Cover
“For a child resistant to having one eye covered with an occluder, I’ve found great success in using a pair of red/green glasses and moving the red filter over to the green side, so it blocks just as well as an occluder, explains Leonard J. Press, O.D., who practices in Fair Lawn, N.J. and is editor-in-chief of Vision Development and Rehabilitation, COVD’s digital journal. “Children like the glasses because they view them as less threatening, so you get better cooperation,” he says.
3. Employ Handheld Microscopes
A company called Bluminator makes handheld microscopes that are about the size of a trial lens and have light on them. They allow for a fast anterior segment exam, says Dori Carlson, O.D., F.A.A.O., a former AOA president, who practices in Park River,N.D.
“They come in white, and they come in cobalt blue, and they work great for nursing home patients too,” she explains.
Do you have any tricks to facilitate examining children? If so, email Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org, and she will add them to this article.