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The Eye Exam
We recommend you visit an emergency department only as a last resort, and always follow up with your primary doctor or optician.

Primary Doctor / Optician

When you approach your primary doctor or optician with concerns about your child’s eye, they will do a Red Reflex Exam in a darkened room.  They will use an ophthalmoscope to look at the back of each eye.

This simply involves shining a special handheld torch into the eye.  They may use dilating drops to make the pupil bigger so they clearly see the back of the eyes. 

If your primary doctor or optician is concerned about your child’s eyes, they will refer you to an ophthalmologist (eye doctor).  Sometimes your child will be referred to a paediatric ophthalmologist (a children’s eye doctor). 

Your child should be seen by the specialist within three days of the referral, and not more than one week later.


The ophthalmologist will use dilating eye drops to make the pupil bigger so they can have a good look at the back of the eyes.  The doctor may also do a vision test and ultrasound, and measure pressure In both eyes.

If the doctor is concerned about the test results, or is not able to see the back of the eye clearly, an eye examination under general anaesthetic (EUA) will be planned.  The EUA will usually be done on a different day, but your child will not usually be admitted to hospital overnight.

The ophthalmologist will explain the test results to you.  If all the tests are normal, your child will be discharged from their care.  If your child does have an eye condition, the doctor will explain the diagnosis and treatment options. 

If your child has retinoblastoma, you will usually be urgently referred to a specialist centre for further tests and treatment.  Your child should be seen by a retinoblastoma specialist within one week.  If you are not given a referral, ask where retinoblastoma is treated in your country, or
contact us for advice.
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A Red Reflex Exam simply involves shining a special handheld torch into the eyes in a darkened room. 
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When you have concerns about the appearance of your child’s eyes,make an appointment with your primary doctor or optician for a prompt red reflex exam.  If they cannot see you within a week, ask if your nearest big eye unit has a walk-in clinic.
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