An eye test is recommended for all children, and for adults every two years. Autistic people may process visual information differently. Here you can find out how you can prepare for an eye care appointment and things that might help on the day. You could also print off some information about autism for the eye care professional to read before the eye appointment.


Preparing for an eye test

If it is the person’s first visit to the optician, you may like to take them to visit the building, to meet the optician and other staff before any appointment. You may also like to show them the equipment which the optician will use and how it works. Alternatively, if this is not possible you could ask the optician to provide photos of these things. Some optician companies are able to do home visits for eye examinations on request.

It is also important to prepare the optician and their team by giving them as much information as possible about the person’s needs so they can make adjustments to the procedure.

Try to ensure that the appointment is the first of the day - maybe even book a double time slot. This reduces the chance of the optician running late and provides enough time not to feel rushed.

Social Stories™

Social stories are an effective way of providing information about an activity and the reason for doing it, eg what happens at the opticians and why we need to go for an eye examination.

Story books

Reading children’s story books about going to the optician before your visit may be helpful. ‘Going to the Optician’ by Avril Webster and ‘Going to the Optician (First experiences with Biff, Chip and Kipper)’ by Roderick Hunt are examples of these.


On the day

Breaking down the visit

You could use visual supports, such as a sequence of pictures or photos that show the different steps involved in the optician visit. This could help the person to know which is coming next and when each step is finished. You could also include a reward picture at the end of the sequence so they have something to look forward to.

Time indicators

Use visual or auditory timers (eg sand timers, buzzers, a mobile phone alarm) to help the person to understand that this experience has a time limit.


Letting the person take comforters into the opticians could help to occupy or distract them. For some people, listening the music on headphones, or having music in the background, can act as a good blocker.   


Further information

Eye tests for people with learning disabilities, SeeAbility

General eye-care information, College of Optometrists

Opticians, ASD Family Help and NHS Berkshire West 

Visual problems and Autism, College of Optometrists in Vision Development



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Last updated 06 February 2018