Explore answers to frequently asked questions about our specialised paediatric eye care services tailored to meet the unique needs of children’s vision health.


How do you check vision in a baby/ toddler?

We tailor the examination to the age and developmental stage of your child, as well as their level of co-operation, and use a variety of different ways to assess vision. Different strategies include picture boards, shapes and letters, preferential looking behaviours and observing reflexive eye movements. We use brightly coloured toys, targets and torches to gain their attention and we make the examination as child-friendly as possible.

Can you still get a valid result even if my child does not co-operate?

Yes. If your child is upset on the day of their appointment, we can still conduct an assessment and comment on your concerns. Our highly trained ophthalmologists and orthoptists employ a number of techniques to gain information regardless of the level of co-operation. Although it is easier if your child participates happily, many tests do not require a child to speak or co-operate.

Why are the appointments so long? Does my child have to pay attention the whole time?

We perform a comprehensive assessment on your child’s vision and eye health which includes using eye drops and waiting for them to take effect. This can take approximately 2 hours and sometimes more. The normal process is that initial testing is performed by the orthoptist which includes talking to you and understanding your concerns as the parent as well as the child’s general health status. They then move on to test vision, determine whether there is an eye turn, whether eye movements are normal and whether the eyes are working together. The orthoptist will then instill eye drops when required. The eye drops take between 30-60 mins to work properly and during this time you and your child can be seated and relaxed in the waiting room. It is common to require 2 or 3 sets of eye drops to get the required effect. Once ready, your child will be called in by the ophthalmologist and the rest of the examination is performed. This includes a health check of all structures of the eye, as well as a check to see if there is a focusing issue that requires glasses by putting lenses in front of the eyes. At the end of the examination the results will be communicated to you and any treatment plan will be discussed.

Do appointments run to time?
We make every effort to run to time, however working with children means there are many factors which are beyond our control. Some children have complex needs and extra time is required to fully understand this. Additionally, some children arrive in a happy and co-operative mood but some children do not. Where co-operation is not readily given alternative strategies will be employed so that meaningful results can still be gained and this can take extra time too. When booking appointments it is not possible for us to predict either the complexity of the case or the levels of co-operation for any particular child on any given day. We think it is important that every family has had the opportunity to ask questions and be informed of treatment options and so you can be assured that you will receive the time and attention you need when it is your child’s turn.
How much does it cost? Can I get a Medicare or Private Health Insurance rebate?

Costs vary according to the type of appointment that is needed and what testing needs to be done. Costs are transparently available and will be explained before the appointment. If extra testing is required on the day, this will be quoted before the test is carried out. Medicare rebates cover part of the appointment cost provided you have supplied a valid referral. We electronically process all Medicare claims on your behalf at time of payment. Private Health Insurance rebates apply to orthoptic appointments, glasses purchase and if your child has eye surgery as a private patient.

What is the difference between an ophthalmologist, an orthoptist and an optometrist?

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who has completed additional training in eyes. In Australia the minimum requirement is 12 years of study. They therefore carry the ultimate qualification to prescribe glasses or medication, and perform surgery as required. The doctors at the CEC have completed further subspecialisation in paediatric ophthalmology. Rest assured your child is seeing a highly trained expert at the top of their field. You can visit www.ranzco.edu for more info.

An orthoptist is an allied health professional who is university trained in diagnosing and managing certain eye conditions, and usually work in a complementary relationship with an ophthalmologist or in a public hospital setting. Their areas of expertise relate to the non-surgical management of eye disorders such as patching or eye exercises, or work in low vision support and rehabilitation services. They also provide assistance to an ophthalmologist in the day to day running of the clinic. See www.orthoptics.org.au for more info.

Optometrists are not medical doctors but are qualified to examine eyes for vision and eye disorders, and to prescribe, supply and fit spectacles and contact lenses. They can refer a patient to an ophthalmologist for advice or any treatment that falls outside the scope of spectacles/ contact lenses. Behavioural optometry is a branch of optometry that purports to improve the general performance of an individual through eye and body exercises. There is inadequate evidence supporting this branch of optometry and it is therefore not recommended by our staff.

Why do we have to wait so long to get an appointment?

This is a supply and demand issue. There are very few doctors who are successful in gaining entry to undertake ophthalmology qualifications, and even fewer who decide to specialise in children. This is exacerbated by high demand due to a very large population of families in Sydney and western Sydney in particular. It is therefore not uncommon to wait several weeks or sometimes months for an appointment. However we have a well-established process for triaging urgent appointments so please let us know if you believe your child needs to see the doctor sooner than initially booked. Emergencies should be taken to the nearest hospital. In the meantime please be assured that we have processes in place to optimise doctor availability and clinic capacity without taking short cuts in the care of your child’s vision.

Where are you located? Is there parking?

Our address is 73 Darcy Rd Wentworthville, in a converted house on the street front. There is free parking onsite which can be accessed by driving down the driveway to the side of the building. If this is full then there is free and unmetered parking in Railway St which is just around the corner. Wentworthville train station is within easy walking distance and there are bus stops along Darcy Rd.

Do I need to bring anything with me?

Your child will need a referral (written by a GP, optometrist or other specialist) to be able to claim a Medicare rebate. This can be sent ahead of time or brought to the appointment. You should come prepared for a 2 to 2 ½ hour appointment so it is a good idea to bring adequate snacks, drinks, nappies and quiet activities to keep your child occupied in the waiting room in between stages. You should also bring any glasses that your child has already been prescribed and any relevant reports which would be helpful. Your child’s or baby’s Personal Health record (also known as “Blue Book”) may be helpful to refer to as well.

If you are able to attend without other children it will be less stressful for you and it will allow you to fully concentrate on the child being tested and the discussions with the doctor and orthoptist.

Is screen time bad for my children’s eyes? How much screen time is too much?

Screens are unavoidable in this day and age but we support sensible limits around usage time. Excessive screen time is linked to issues with physical, psychological, social and cognitive health. From an eye point of view the biggest risk of excessive screen time relates to myopia (short-sightedness) and further information can be found here. The Australian Institute of Family Studies has developed some guidelines regarding appropriate screen usage. These vary depending on a child’s age and can be found here https://aifs.gov.au/resources/short-articles/too-much-time-screens along with suggestions on how to reduce screen time.

All About the Eye Drops

Why do eye drops need to go in? What do they do?
The eye drops that are put in your child’s eyes at their assessment do two things. Firstly, they dilate the pupil. That is, they make the black circle in the middle of the coloured iris larger. This means that the doctor can have an excellent view of the back of the eye and make sure certain structures like the retina, optic nerve, macula and blood vessels look healthy. Without the eye drops the view is very narrow and the peripheral anatomy cannot be adequately viewed. It can be compared to peering through a keyhole versus opening the door to look inside a room. Secondly, they relax the focusing muscle so we can get an objective measurement on whether your child needs glasses. This is especially important in children who are very young or non-verbal as they can’t report blurry vision yet.
I’m not worried about my child’s vision/ we are coming for a different reason. Do the drops still need to be put in?

Yes. It is not possible to perform a comprehensive eye test without eye drops, especially in children. Occasionally unexpected and sinister problems are uncovered by the eye drops, and so the ophthalmologist who has taken responsibility for your child’s vision and eye health will always require eye drops to be put in at the first appointment. The drops may or may not need to be repeated at follow up visits but they will be done at the first appointment as part of a comprehensive initial assessment.

Do they hurt? What if my child won’t sit still for the drops?
The eye drops sting for a couple of seconds but quickly fade away. Counting 10 big blinks help to disperse the drop across the surface of the eye faster and provide a helpful distraction. We find it to be a good strategy for anxious children to have a big cuddle on your lap while the drops go in. This provides reassurance for your child as well as assists us in containing them for a couple of seconds. Also the more calm, confident and reassuring you are as the parent, the more comfortable your child will be with the whole process.
What are the side effects?

The most common side effects relate directly to the intended effects. Pupil dilation will cause glare sensitivity as normally the pupil constricts to light. Relaxation of the focusing muscle will cause blurry vision for tasks that require a lot of focus such as reading up close.

How long do they last for?

Maximum effect is reached in about 45-60 minutes but the blur can last the rest of the day. Some pupil dilation may still be noticed more than 24 hours after the appointment but will also gradually return to normal and is not a cause for concern.

Can my child go to school/ preschool/ day care after their eye appointment?

If eye drops have been used then it is generally recommended to keep them home after the appointment as the side effects of blur and glare sensitivity will interfere with their ability to participate normally in class and outdoor play time. If this is not possible we recommend you inform your child’s teacher/s so they are aware of the child’s limitations for that day. Decisions around other activities such as sport can be made on a case by case situation and you are welcome to ask the orthoptist or ophthalmologist on the day for their recommendation, although generally a quiet day spent indoors is recommended. Children are able to attend all normal activities the following day.

Why do the drops need to be repeated?

The amount of eye drops put in at the consultation will differ depending on many factors which include the child’s age, suspected or known diagnoses, the amount of pigment (colour) in the eye, the doctor’s practice patterns as well as other factors.
How often the drops are repeated at follow up appointments will also vary and considers many factors such as the child’s age, diagnosis, expected eye growth and subsequent change in focusing ability. Common timeframes are 6, 9, 12 or 24 monthly.

Make a Booking

To make an appointment to see one of our specialists, call 02 9896 4577 or visit our Booking Page.