Going to the Ocularist
When going to the ocularist, your child’s greatest fear will be that he will experience severe pain.
This will not happen, but he will feel some very strange, unfamiliar sensations in the process of making and fitting the new eye.
Psychologically, children and adults are not accustomed to somebody putting things into the eye socket. We spend our whole life protecting the eye in the socket, and the mind and body is geared to reject anything in the socket.
Children can overcome these fears and anxieties, and will do so with time. You can help your child by reminding him that there is nothing in the socket that can be harmed.
Avoid words like “hurt” and “pain”, even when explaining that the procedure will not hurt. Your child will only hear HURT. Instead use words like discomfort, and explain what that means if necessary.
My Prosthetic Eye is a picture book created with the help of a medical play doll, his removable eye, and Toronto ocularist, Matthew Milne. It’s a great tool to help children prepare for visiting the ocularist to have their own eye made or cared for.
Download My Prosthetic Eye as a PDF direct from our website.
Talk About Sensations
Describe sensations using humorous sensory based words. For example, “the ocularist will use some special squishy clay/play dough to make a mould of inside your eye socket”. Stress that it will feel weird or funny, but that Mom/Dad will be there to help and the ocularist will finish up as quickly as possible.
Some children need support to feel and experience each aspect of the procedure. Ask questions such as “does the squishy stuff feel cool or warm?” or “it is clear that this feels funny to you, can you tell me about it?”
Focusing on the procedure helps your child define the sensation and confirms that he is being listened to. This also compartmentalizes the sensations and discomfort, and allows you, to understand the experience and provide even better verbal support.
Comfort and Encourage
Sometimes children benefit from positions of comfort while the mould is being made or the impression fitted. Give your child the choice of sitting on Mom/Dad’s lap or on the special chair.
Use language that conveys support, hope, love, courage and affection. This will help your child let go of fear and discomfort. What you say and how you say it reflects what you think and feel. Finding appropriate ways to reduce your own fear and anxiety BEFORE you go to the ocularist is very important.
Explain each step to your child, and the reasons for it. For example, “the ocularist is fixing the shape to make sure it is comfortable and your eye can open and close well”.
Don’t make false promises like “this is the last time you will have to remove your special eye today”. Trust is vital. It is OK to let children know you don’t know what else needs to happen.
Some children prefer to turn their attention away from the procedure. you can provide distractions by asking questions about a favorite game or movie, talking about a happy memory like a favourite vacation, or singing a song.
Painful? No. Uncomfortable and strange? Yes,
Tiring? Yes, but at the end of the process, a beautiful new eye.