Children's ophthalmology patient information
Find out what to expect when you come to hospital for your child's ophthalmology appointment.
Before your appointment
We usually see patients for routine new appointments within 12 weeks. For urgent patients, our team will do what we can to offer an appointment sooner depending on the consultant or grading clinician's opinion.
Parents should attend all appointments with their child as they need to be informed of the treatment plan and may need to consent. If a carer or guardian comes they must have a letter giving them authorisation and not be under the age of 18. Though we understand the whole family may wish to attend, the first appointment can take a few hours and it can be distracting having too many family members.
To get the most out of your child’s appointment, it is helpful to bring any relevant information relating to family history of eye problems, birth history and previous eye history, should your child have had their eyes looked at before.
Please bring any glasses that your child has been given by the optometrist if they have seen one and a copy of the prescription. If the glasses are lost or broken it is better to postpone the appointment until your optician has repaired or replaced the glasses.
If your child requires hearing aids please also bring these along with a list of any medications your child takes. You may wish to prepare your child by talking to them about the possibility of needing eye drops.
During your appointment
Your first appointment and assessment will last for approximately two and a half hours long, this is because most children are seen by at least three members of the team and are likely to require eye drops as part of the assessment.
Please note that we are a teaching hospital, so medical students may be present for some appointments. If you do not wish to have them in the room please let the nurse or doctor know and the students will be asked to step outside.
As part of your assessment you may see an orthoptist, an ophthalmologist, and/or an optometrist/optician. Each of these staff members may perform tests during the assessment.
This is the first person your child will normally be tested by in the clinic. An orthoptist is a specialist that deals with children’s sight and has been trained to test for squints (strabismus) and problems with how the two eyes work together (binocular vision).
During an examination with an orthoptist, your child may look at pictures or letters, or may simply be observed to see how they respond to different objects/toys they see.
This is an eye doctor who will examine the health of your child’s eyes. The ophthalmologist may need to add drops to your child’s eyes in order to enlarge the black (pupil) of the eye, which will enable the doctor to examine inside the eye. During the examination your child may look at some lights or be examined with a special machine.
An optometrist or optician specialises in assessing for glasses. The optometrist may shine a light in your child’s eyes and hold up different lenses to determine if they need glasses.
After your appointment
Your child may be given drops to treat eye infections, prescribed glasses to correct focusing errors and/or patching treatment for a lazy eye (amblyopia).
If an operation is necessary, the doctor will explain the type of surgical procedure required and will include the child on the waiting list for surgery.
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