Getting Through Eye Exams

I have the worst time at the eye doctors. All things about the eyes just creep me out- I can barely think about contact lenses. Unfortunately, autoimmune arthritis has a tendency to affect the eyes, especially in children. Lots of us have to do full eye exams at least once a year, if not twice or possibly more. Yay.

I've had a heck of a time through the years with my eye exams. I used to have to go twice a year but after switching to a new eye doctor last year, it was determined I could go once a year. But no matter how often I go, I never get used to it. Eye drops? Those are a struggle. Want me to look into the light? Yeah, we'll see about that. And don't even talk to me about glaucoma tests.

I may not like them at all, but I do have ways of getting through them.
  • If you can't seem to keep your eye open for drops, there is a way that could make it easier. Tilt your head back onto the head of the chair, that way you can push your head into the chair and you won't move. To keep your eye open, put one or two finger on the middle of your top lid and pull it open, more so at an angle than straight up. It will be harder for your reflexes to close your eye if the lid is held up at an angle.       
  • If they're shining a light in your eye, or anything else that makes you want to close your eye, focus on your other eye. It really makes it easier since you are no longer paying as much attention to the eye being examined.
  • If you're anxious, tell the nurse and doctor. They may understand: people are often very nervous for eye appointments. They may do things more slowly, explain everything they'll do before and as they're doing it, and they might have tricks to help you along.
  • Take deep breaths. It might help you loosen up.
  • If you just can't stay still, do what I do: Hold yourself down. Push yourself into the chair if you have to. You're probably moving just because your body is uncomfortable and is reacting how it would in nature. Sometimes you really can't help it, and that's okay.
  • Bring dark glasses- you don't want to wear the ones they give you, trust me.
  • Take someone with you. It could help to have someone you trust with you during the exam, but if your eyes are dilated its a good idea to have someone with you to drive or help you read.
  • Bring an iPod or something like that with you. Whilst you wait for the dilation to take effect, you might be bored and the drops will make it harder for you to read and tolerate light. Listening to music will be much better than irritating your dialated eyes with books or iPhone games.
  • Try to act like it's not a big deal: Have conversations, make jokes and laugh. The less scary nod uncomfortable you pretend it is, the less scary it will seem.
Oh course, I thing the most important thing is that it's fine to be nervous or scared. Our eyes are very vulnerable and most people are very sensitive to that area being touched. It's natural that we don't want others being near our eyes or getting light or drops in them. It's very intimidating. It's okay to be scared, but it's important to go anyway. Being uncomfortable for a bit is much better than dealing with the consequences of undetected eye problems.


  1. I'm not bothered by eye exams, drops, etc., but I can understand and empathize with people who are. What excellent advice, Elizabeth!

  2. That what i'm talking about a great post like this...Thanks for this blog and for the information that you post...Manhattan eye doctors


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