Practice the eye chart!
If your child is too young or otherwise unwilling to read standard letters on the eye chart, try practicing one of the other types of figures we use in the office, below. When they come in for an exam, these pictures will be on a screen at the end of the room and they can either name them or match them to a corresponding card in front of them. Just gaining familiarity with the pictures before your visit can increase the likelihood they will do it during the exam. (And if they can’t do its don’t worry! We can still figure out whether or not they need glasses). If you feel your child (sometimes as young as 2) is ready to do this, be sure to inform your child’s eye doctor at the start of the exam which pictures they have practiced.
The first set are called “Lea” figures. It does not matter what they call the pictures, as long as they are consistent and it is clear what they are describing (eg. the figure at lower right is often called an “apple” or a “heart”, but any answer is fine):
The next set of pictures are called “Allen” figures. (You can skip the phone. The car/jeep is sometimes confusing too.) Some of our offices also have a tree, airplane, and bear. If they can at least get the cake, hand, bird, and horse, that should suffice.
Finally, we have the “HOTV” optotypes. When you think about it, letters are really just shapes. By simplifying to just a few letters that are fairly distinct, we find that even kids who don’t know their letters yet can match these “pictures” to corresponding H,O,T, V figures on a card in front of them: