Eye clinic appointments: a guide for parents

If you're concerned about attending your child’s hospital eye clinic appointment during coronavirus, the information below should help you prepare for the visit.

  • While there will be variation across the UK, most clinics are now operating under similar guidelines. Some changes you might find are things like one-way systems, smaller waiting areas, fewer chairs, a one-in, one-out system. Some clinics may have changed the layout or moved rooms. Everyone, including non-clinical staff, will be wearing PPE.
     
  • Hospital transport is slowly being reintroduced. If you normally rely on this, check locally in advance of your visit.
     
  • It’s important not to arrive too early for an appointment as you may not be allowed into clinic until your allotted time.
     
  • Before your visit, you might want to talk to your child about the changes and what to expect. Toys and games have been removed from waiting areas so remember to pack these along with refreshments and any other things you might need during your appointment. 

Face coverings are now mandatory in all NHS settings. The full details, including exemptions, can be seen on this GOV.UK page.

Tips to help you make the most of your child’s eye clinic appointment

Going to the eye clinic gives you the opportunity to discuss your child's vision with the ophthalmologist and other eye clinic staff. It is a key time for you to ask questions, or raise any concerns you have.

At the clinic, you may be busy with entertaining your child and keeping up with the tests and discussions during the appointment. It can be helpful to write down your questions and concerns before you go, so that you don't forget anything during your visit.

Your eye clinic may have an Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO) who can help you access local support services and make sure that the correct referrals to education or social support services have been made, and that you have details of any benefits or additional services that may help you.  

If your child has additional disabilities or difficulties, you may find it helpful to contact VILD (Visual Impairment and Learning Disability) which is the RNIB initative that supports people with additional needs in accessing appropriate eye care. VILD services and expertise relate to both children and adults.

We asked other parents for ideas on what to ask at the eye clinic. Here's what they suggested.

Questions for the doctor, ophthalmologist or paediatrician

  • What is the condition called? Can you spell that for me?
  • What causes the condition? Please explain as simply as possible.
  • How does the condition affect my child's ability to see?
  • Does this condition sometimes run in families? If so, can I speak to a genetic counsellor?
  • Can anything be done to cure or help this condition? Is any special treatment necessary? What might help? What can I do to help?
  • Is there anything my child mustn't do (for example, rub their eyes, shake their head or jump on to a hard surface)?
  • Even with treatment, is the condition likely to get worse, get better or stay the same?
  • When should my child be examined again?
  • Where might we go for further advice and help? For example, could you give us the contact details for visual impairment professionals in social services, the education authority and voluntary organisations?
  • Is there anything further I can do to help my child?
  • Have you got any information on this subject that I can take home and read?

Questions to ask your child’s orthoptist or ophthalmic optician

  • Will glasses or lenses help? If so, when should my child wear them?
  • Are there any special aids which will help my child see better?
  • In your opinion, how well can my child see…
    • at a distance?
    • to the side?
    • in colour?
    • in the dark?
    • in bright light?
    • with movement?
    • with 3D vision?
  • What can I do to encourage my child to help their vision develop, and to make the best use of their sight?
  • Can you refer my child to a qualified teacher for children with a visual impairment (QTVI)? I'd like to discuss how my child's sight might affect him or her at school or nursery, and what sort of support should be put in place.