Deciding on any kind of new doctor is a daunting process. You’re trusting a stranger with your health, afterall. When you’re looking for a doctor for your child, though, there’s another layer. You need to be certain you’re choosing the right professional for someone who might not be able to advocate for themselves. Finding a kids’ eye doctor that will tick all of your boxes might feel a little overwhelming, for this reason and for others.
The good news is that when you’re armed with the right information, you don’t have to worry. Here, we’ll take you through all the different characteristics you should be looking for in an eye doctor for kids in the St. Louis area. First, though, the next section will explain why this task is so vital, and why making sure your children have healthy eyes and good vision is important, even at the youngest ages.
The Importance of Kids’ Eye Doctors
Bringing your children to get their yearly eye exam is vital to their overall health. Kids’ eye doctors can detect vision problems and eye diseases early, and that can lead to more effective treatment as well as the prevention of potential complications or worsening conditions. They can also sometimes detect indicators of other, non-vision-related health conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or even tumors.
And even if there aren’t larger health concerns present, vision issues can be the culprit for academic, social, and comfort struggles. Children might not realize what is causing their headaches or why they can’t focus on what the teacher is writing on the board, but a kids’ eye doctor can perform a routine exam and discover whether vision issues are a factor.
All of this is why finding an eye doctor for kids near you is an important task. Now, let’s look at the things you should be looking for in an eye doctor for your children.
Qualities of Outstanding Kids’ Eye Doctors
There are tons of eye doctors for kids in the St. Louis area that provide quality care to all of their patients. You need to have some way of narrowing down your options. Take this list as a starting point, and add any specific needs of your family as necessary.
Look for an optometrist or ophthalmologist who specializes in pediatric eye care. An eye doctor for kids will be more familiar with the unique needs of children’s eyes and the common problems that can arise, leading to the potential for better results.
Not only will they have a better understanding of children’s eyes, they’ll also have a better understanding of what children need from their eye doctor. Several of the qualities we’ve outlined in later sections have to do with how kids’ eye doctors interact with their patients. Pediatric specialists will have an advantage in those categories.
Years of experience treating children can indicate that the doctor is well-versed in handling pediatric cases and is up-to-date with the latest treatment modalities. As with any profession, the more years you have under your belt as an eye doctor for kids, the more situations you’ve handled and the more working knowledge you have.
This isn’t to say that brand-new kids’ eye doctors are bad choices, though. The rigorous education required gives them the right experience to begin seeing patients, and if they weren’t ready, they wouldn’t have earned the necessary degrees and licenses. So, this point tends to be less important than many of the other ones we’ve listed. Many years of experience and practice is a nice-to-have, but lots of new eye doctors for kids also have what it takes.
Good Communication Skills
The doctor should be able to communicate effectively with both parents and children. They should be able to explain complex topics in a way that’s easy for everyone to understand. Children will likely want to know what’s going on during the exam, and a good eye doctor for kids will be able and willing to explain what they are evaluating, the tools they’re using, and any other pertinent details in a child-appropriate manner.
Good communication skills also extend to the different options for corrective lenses, appointment reminders, and other more administrative tasks that the doctor might not do themselves. Making all the details clear to the parent can have a positive impact on the overall experience.
Children may be anxious, non-cooperative, or fearful during eye exams. A good pediatric eye doctor will have the patience to deal with children and make them feel comfortable. This quality goes hand-in-hand with the communication element we discussed in the previous section. A kids’ eye doctor should be ready to take their time fully communicating what’s going on.
These qualities can help children have a good experience in their appointments and therefore be more likely to continue going to their regular yearly examinations all through their lives. So, it’s important to make sure you find a kids’ eye doctor that has plenty of patience for their patients. Fortunately, if they’re a pediatric specialist, they likely chose that for a reason, and know how to be great with kids.
The clinic should have modern equipment that’s suitable for examining children’s eyes. This will ensure that your child receives the most accurate diagnosis and treatment. Outdated appliances and tools can skew the results or otherwise give you inaccurate information and readings. Or, they could simply not be giving you the entire picture, while a newer type of equipment could provide more in-depth information.
The different types of tests that a kids’ eye doctor conducts will vary slightly depending on the practice. An optometrist or ophthalmologist that stays up-to-date on the most practical and advanced tests (and the equipment needed to do them) conveys a dedication to quality care.
Look for reviews, or ask for referrals from other parents. A positive reputation in the community can be a good indicator of the quality of care provided.
Of course, you do need to take negative online reviews with a grain of salt. Just anybody can write them, and when you’re looking for a kids’ eye doctor, it might scare you away prematurely if you’re over concerned about a single bad review. The best practice when it comes to sifting through online reviews is to look at the big picture. If you see themes across several reviews, whether positive or negative, those are more trustworthy than a one-off comment.
A kids’ eye doctor with lots of happy patients and parents is a great choice.
The clinic or office should be designed to make children feel at ease. When your family walks into the office of an eye doctor for kids, you should all feel welcomed. Part of that is creating an environment that’s designed for kids. This could include child-friendly decor, toys, or books to engage them. They might get a little anxious or restless while they’re waiting, so an inviting and fun waiting room is a great way for a kids’ eye doctor to make a good first impression. It will also make wrangling them a lot easier if there are ways for them to entertain themselves — you might need to fill out paperwork.
The eye doctor should be thorough in examining your child’s eyes, asking about any issues or symptoms, and ensuring all concerns are addressed. It’s a red flag for any kind of doctor to be rushing through the appointment. It might be time for a change if you feel that your children’s eye doctor is not taking the time to answer your questions.
If there are lingering issues that go unnoticed or concerns that are brushed over, you should look at your other options in the St. Louis area. There are plenty of well-qualified eye doctors for kids that will take the time to fully explore all areas of eye health and want to make you feel secure that everything has been thoroughly checked out.
This one is fairly self-explanatory. Consider the doctor’s availability for appointments, especially in case of emergencies or urgent situations. Even if getting an appointment with an eye doctor for kids near you isn’t extremely time-sensitive, it’s better to get in sooner rather than later. The condition or concern could get worse by the time you’re able to get in to see them if the wait time is extremely long.
If the pediatric eye doctor you’d prefer is booked solid, there are likely plenty of other suitable options with a more reasonable waiting period. This will reduce the amount of stress with the initial visit and get the whole thing over with in a more comfortable time frame.
Check if the doctor you’re considering for your children is affiliated with reputable organizations or hospitals. This can be a sign of their commitment to ongoing education and adherence to industry standards. The national organizations you’re looking for include the American Optometric Association or the American Academy of Ophthalmology, but you can also check with more local organizations.
These types of organizations work to advance careers through continuing education as well as networking opportunities and other resources. An eye doctor for kids in your area that has access to more continuing education and professional development opportunities is likely to be more well-equipped to provide the highest quality of care.
Clear Pricing and Insurance Policies
Understand the costs associated with the services, and check if the doctor’s office accepts your insurance. This is one of the first steps you should take when you’re gathering information about different eye doctors for kids in the St. Louis area. Having clear information about pricing can prevent unexpected expenses.
If the doctor’s office is difficult to deal with when it comes to insurance or did not properly communicate the cost of their services, that’s a sign it could be time for a change in your kids’ eye doctor. These matters can be complicated, but when it comes to payment, the office should be able to clearly communicate what you are expected to pay.
Where to Start your Search
Now that you know what you’re looking for in an eye doctor for kids, you need to find some potential candidates to vet for those qualities.
An obvious place to start is a referral from your child’s pediatrician, or searching through the list of in-network doctors from your health insurance provider. You can also ask around family and friends for any suggestions they have. Good reviews, both online and from trusted sources, can help point you toward reputable and high-quality kids’ eye doctors in your area.
Another place to look for a local eye doctor for kids is a trusted professional organization, such as the American Optometric Association or the American Academy of Ophthalmology. They both have search functions. You can also check with any local universities, teaching hospitals, or optometry schools.
No matter how you go about finding a provider, it’s essential to feel comfortable with your child’s eye doctor. It might be a good idea to schedule a preliminary visit or consultation to get a feel for the doctor and their practice. This will allow you to gauge their suitability for your child’s needs. Meeting with them, or at least having the opportunity to ask questions, can make the decision easier.
Make an appointment with us here at Wildwood Vision Specialists.
Now that you know exactly what you’re looking for in an eye doctor for kids near you, you’re ready to contact your top options and schedule that first appointment. Make some calls, ask the pertinent questions, and then make your decision.
If you’re in the Wildwood area, our practice would be an excellent choice for your kids’ eye doctor. Our experienced team specializes is pediatrics and exhibits all of the qualities we’ve outlined here. All you have to do to get started is reach out — we’d be happy to answer any remaining questions you have and get your child scheduled for an appointment. You can learn more about our practice, and when you’re ready, fill out the appropriate paperwork. Our team looks forward to seeing you in our Wildwood office!