What to Expect at an Eye Exam for Kids

My son has always played with his toys at a point-blank distance. I used to think it was cute. I mean, after all, it was.

Kai on his first day of three-school.

It took years for us to connect the dots between moments like this and the need for glasses. It’s impossible to be vigilant about everything, and we truly thought this was just Kai being Kai.

The light went on for me and Ry around the same time. I made an optometrist appointment for Kai as soon as it did.

a little girl wears glasses and smiles at the camera. Text overlay reads Preparing Your Child for the Eye Doctor: Tips and Video


How to Tell if Your Child Needs Glasses

I’m no optometrist, but in my experience, these are a few reasons to get them to the eye doctor.

  • squinting
  • covering one eye
  • getting really close to the TV
  • crossing eyes
  • child doesn’t point out sights from the car or on walks

What to Expect at a Child Eye Exam

I feel like the eye doctor is the easiest doctor, in terms of how comfortable kids are with the visit. But my son had never been there, and he’d also recently had some less-than-fun moments with swabs and pokes at the doctor’s office. I really wanted to reassure him that the eye doctor would be easy peasy. Here’s how I prepared him, and I think it helped him out a lot!

Watch this video with your child.

I loved this video about a five-year-old’s trip to the eye doctor, because it’s so normal and sweet and it will prep your kiddo for the entire appointment. (There are others out there that I didn’t like because they focused on the kid’s fears!)

Familiarizing your preschooler with what the eye doctor’s room looks like is half the battle. Some of the equipment might look odd, and the fact that the room is dark could be a surprise to your little one. Talk about it while you watch the video and talk about it on the way to the appointment if you need to.

Avoid hinting to your child that you’re worried they will be scared. It’s easy to say something like, “don’t worry, you don’t have to be scared, it’s fine!” without realizing how it might actually provoke a bit of fear. If it hasn’t occurred to your child that it could be scary, keep it that way! Don’t give them cues that they have something to fear. Just be relaxed and talk about how cool it is.

Prepare your child for glasses.

Say something simple like, “The doctor will tell you if you need glasses. We can look at them before we go!” Some kids are going to love the idea of glasses and be disappointed if they don’t need them (ahem! my daughter!) while others might hate the idea.

Just make sure you’ve introduced the idea before the appointment.

We were pretty sure Kai needed them, so we also talked about the people and fictional characters we know who wear glasses.

Characters from Kids Shows Who Wear Glasses

These are just a few ideas, it’s not a comprehensive list.

  • Prince Wednesday from Daniel Tiger
  • Daddy Pig and Pedro Pony from Peppa Pig
  • Leo from Little Einsteins
  • Hallie the Hippo from Doc McStuffins
  • Francois and Captain Turbot from Paw Patrol
  • Baileywick from Sophia the First

I have a sneaking suspicion that creators of children’s shows don’t usually feature a main character with glasses simply because creating toys with glasses might be considered a problem. Too often, glasses are reserved for “nerdy” side characters. It’s annoying, to say the least.



More Reading on Parenting Preschoolers and Toddlers


My Preschooler’s Experience at the Eye Doctor

Kai was completely comfortable at the eye doctor. (Thanks, Little Miss Kate, for the awesome video!) He followed directions and listened like a champ!

We let him pick his frames, and I think that went a long way in how much he liked wearing them. As a parent, the best thing about glasses is the impact they have on your kids.

Kai immediately started telling us about what he could see, like deer running in the fields, trucks on the highway, signs along the road, pictures hanging on the walls, and all sorts of things we didn’t know were blurry for him before. He also started writing his name smaller instead of HUGE right away. 🙂

Once his glasses came in, I started wearing mine for a few days instead of contacts. Kai loved how we matched and it helped me give him tips about cleaning them, and when to take them off…like:

  • At bedtime
  • During baths
  • Before crashing into the couch face-first

Once he realized his friends and teachers liked them too, he was completely confident about them. We are SO THRILLED for him!

I’m positive that your kiddo will have a good experience at the eye doctor, especially if you help him or her feel prepared. Glasses have made such a huge difference for our son, and if your child needs them, I know you’ll be amazed at how much they help!


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