Finding out that your child requires eye surgery can actually be a bit of a relief. It’s natural for you to feel a bit anxious about the procedure, of course, but you’re probably also glad to hear of a way to remedy the serious, painful, or chronic condition that’s been affecting their ocular health and vision.
It’s only natural to feel nervous when your child needs any type of surgery, and if you’re like most parents, much of your own concern is probably related to your child’s feelings of worry, apprehension, or fear.
That’s because, even though preparing for eye surgery can raise anxiety levels in anyone, it can be especially scary for children, who are smaller, more vulnerable, and are less sure about what to expect.
Here at ABC Children’s Eye Specialists, we do everything we can to ensure your child feels as calm and relaxed as possible before eye surgery. Here’s what you can do to prepare your child in the days leading up to their procedure to help them feel comfortable and in control when they arrive.
Prepare yourself first
You can’t prepare your child for eye surgery until you’ve taken the time to prepare yourself first. Learning everything you can about their upcoming procedure is the first step in addressing your own concerns or feelings of unease — once you feel more informed and assured, you’ll be better positioned to help your child feel more comfortable.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the outset, it’s helpful to make a list of questions and concerns as they occur to you. Read as much information as you can about your child’s diagnosis as well as the procedure itself, and never hesitate to ask our team to clarify something or provide more information.
Once you’ve educated yourself, corrected any existing misconceptions, and eased your own anxieties, you’ll be able to give your child a better idea of what’s going to happen and why it’s necessary.
Let them know what to expect
Information can go a long way toward alleviating your child’s fears and helping them cope with uncertainty, as long as it’s delivered in the right way — while you want to give your child an accurate idea of what will happen during eye surgery and how it will help them, you should do so using language and concepts that are appropriate to their level of understanding.
Be honest with your child, using simple, calming words to explain why they’re having eye surgery. Choosing your words carefully is an easy way to help tame their fears — instead of saying, “the doctor will put you to sleep first,” try saying, “the doctor will give you medicine to help you sleep very deeply so you won’t feel anything during the operation.”
A very young child may not need to know much about the procedure itself, apart from the fact that the doctor is going to use small, special instruments to fix their eye while they’re fast asleep. It may also be helpful to explain that many kids who’ve had this same problem have also gone to the hospital to have it fixed in the same way.
If your child is older, you’ll want to avoid alarming language like “the doctor will cut your eye,” or even “the doctor will make an incision in your eye.” You can take a more reassuring approach using words like “the doctor uses special instruments to repair the problem that makes your eyes hurt or makes it hard for you to see.”
It’s also important to let them know their surgery is an outpatient procedure, meaning they’ll be able to go home the same day and won’t have to spend a night in the hospital.
Once you’ve given your child accurate information at their level of understanding, it’s time to correct any misunderstandings and address any lingering fears or misconceptions.
To get an idea of what your child is thinking, encourage questions as well as expressions of fear, and reassure them that their questions and fears are perfectly normal — you may even want to let them know that adults, too, can feel worried or anxious when faced with eye surgery.
A young child is more likely to be worried about feeling pain or being separated from you during the procedure; offer continued reassurance that the special medicine helps ensure they won’t feel anything at all and that you’ll be right there waiting when they wake up afterward.
Older children are more likely to be worried about surgical knives, lasers, and damage to their body. They may also be afraid of waking up during the operation, or not waking up afterward. If your older child expresses these fears, offer clear, rational information, correct any misconceptions about disfigurement or injury, and explain that anesthesia is highly effective and very safe.
In short, you want to assure your child that their eye surgery will fix an existing problem, not create a new one.
And remember, with ABC Children’s Eye Specialists you’re never on your own — our team can give you the information and guidance you need to ensure both you and your child feel comfortable and supported every step of the way. To learn more, call your nearest office in Phoenix or Mesa, Arizona, today, or use the easy online tool to schedule a visit any time.