Our First Eye Exam at Dr. Tavel

Keeping on top of my children’s health is a priority.

They get wellness checkups at their pediatrician every year like clockwork, and I take them for bi-annual dental exams and cleanings. But, for some reason, making an appointment for an eye exam always got pushed to the side. But this year, I was determined to make it happen! So, I scheduled my sons, age 8 and 5, for their first eye exam at Dr. Tavel.

We didn’t have any suspicions that either of my sons had trouble with their vision. Both would often point out birds in faraway trees, or planes flying high up in the sky. Still, I thought it would be best to get their eyes checked anyway, as my husband and I both started needing glasses around my oldest son’s age. Does nearsightedness run in families? I don’t know for sure, but it’s better to be sure that my kiddos have perfect vision than just assume.

Dr. Tavel

I’m no rookie when it comes to visiting an optometrist (remember, I’ve had glasses since elementary school!). However, I’ve never gone through the process of an eye exam for anyone but myself. Luckily, the doctors and staff at Dr. Tavel made the whole process easy (and, belive it or not, fun!), and they are very well versed at working with families all over the Indianapolis area.

Making the Appointment

The website makes it super easy to schedule an appointment. There are more than a dozen different locations just in central Indiana alone, so you can find an office that is close to your home. If you’re looking for a location that offers something specific – such as Spanish- or Burmese-speaking doctors, or a location that is open late, or one that allows walk-ins — you can click on a button and narrow your search. 

Once I indicated my preferred location, I filled out some basic information, including a call-back number, and within a few hours, someone from the Dr. Tavel office called me back to schedule my appointment. I was able to get an appointment for a few days later. I felt good because I finally had an eye exam for my kids on my calendar!

Checking In

When we got to Dr. Tavel, a friendly woman greeted us and checked us in. We were not paying with insurance, but that didn’t matter, and we were told upfront what the cost would be for the eye exam. If you’re a new patient, one of the things they do at check in is take a picture of you to put in your file. My kids enjoyed cheesing for the camera!

The Waiting Room

We didn’t have to wait long to see the doctor — maybe five minutes — so during our short wait, we checked out the very kid-friendly waiting room. There was a child-size table and some toys to play with, as well as a selfie wall so mom and dad can snap a pic of their child’s first eye exam visit (and you know we did take photos!). There was also a beverage bar for the grown-ups with coffee and all the accoutrements. My husband and I had just enough time to make ourselves a cup of coffee before our kids were called back for their eye exams.

Dr. Tavel
Dr. Tavel

Kid-friendly Exam

The optometrist’s assistant took us back to a darkened room so she could get pictures of my son’s eye up close. The assistant informed me that, because of their age, neither of my kids would be getting their eyes dilated at this visit. They also would not have to do the air puff test — that ever unpopular and often dreaded part of an eye exam that bounces a shot of air against your eyeball to check the pressure inside the eye. I was relieved! I didn’t want my children’s first eye exam to be a traumatic one, and the air puff test is definitely no fun. The assistant informed me that, unless there is a reason to believe that the test might need to be performed, Dr. Tavel offices usually wait until age 10 or older to do the air puff test.

Next, we were seated in another room where we met the optometrist. She did a vision acuity test that checked how well each child sees at different distances. Both my 5-year-old and my 8-year-old know all of their ABCS (and my 8-year-old can read), but for very young kids who can’t read or identify letters yet, Dr. Tavel offices use a different method.

The optometrist then did a pupil test, which required her to shine a bright light into each eye so she could see inside. To get my kids to focus on one spot and not look at the light, she put on a cartoon of a rabbit hopping on a pogo stick (which was surprisingly mesmerizing, even to an adult like me!). It worked! Both of my kids focused on the TV and not on what the doctor was doing. She only had the cartoon running for a minute or two, but that was all she needed. 

Dr. Tavel
Dr. Tavel

The eye movement test was next, but that was super simple and just required my kids to follow where the doctor moved an instrument. This also checks the kids’ side (or peripheral) vision.

After the exam, the doctor let us know that neither child needed glasses. That was good news! It confirmed what I had already suspected, and I am glad that we now know for sure that they have great vision (at the moment, at least!), and that their eyes are healthy.

Our eye exam at Dr. Tavel was comprehensive, but it didn’t take an inordinate amount of time. You know how it is with kids: You want complete and thorough care, but you also know that kids have a short attention span, so you want to get in and out as quickly as possible. That was our experience at Dr. Tavel’s office. I felt good knowing that this important health task was checked off the list of things to do, and that we had a great first visit that set a positive tone for eye exam visits in the future.

Brought to you by Dr. Tavel.

Dr. Tavel

Nicole Sipe
Nicole Sipe
Nicole Sipe is the editor of Indy's Child and Southwest Ohio Parent magazines. She has a BA in Journalism from California State University Northridge, and has been involved in the print and digital publishing world for most of her life. Born and raised in Southern California, Nicole traded the city and sun for corn and creeks, and now lives in central Indiana with her husband, two sons and Collie. Her latest book for children, “All About Me! Art Journal” was published in 2022 by Walter Foster Jr. In her spare time, she likes traveling with her family, enjoying good food and drink, volunteering at her children’s schools and around her community, and practicing yoga.

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