Paisley Road Public School can now rest assured that their kindergarten students are ready to learn, due to their participation in a pilot project that  treated 52 students with an identified vision problem that might have significantly impacted their learning.

With 80 per cent of classroom learning being visual, and one child in four having an undetected eye problem that can interfere with learning and development, it is essential for children with eye health issues to get detected and immediately treated.

This is what a collaborative pilot project between the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO), The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and McMaster University seeks to address. The project involves conducting vision screenings of junior and senior kindergarten students in 10 elementary schools across Ontario, one of which being Paisley Road. 

Following the screening, students who are identified as having a vision problem are referred to an optometrist, who conducts a complete eye health examination on-site. If glasses are prescribed, they are administered through OAO’s Eye See…Eye Learn® program, which provides a complimentary pair of glasses to children with their eye exam.

Drs. Matt Iley and Melissa Furfaro of Edinburgh Optometry Clinic in Guelph were the optometrists on-site at Paisley Road during the testing.

“Out of the 145 students that were screened, at least 52 of them required an immediate eye examination because a probable vision or eye coordination problem was identified,” said Dr. Iley. “Parents are often surprised that their child has a vision problem. Children learn to cope with the vision limitations, because they don’t know what normal vision is supposed to look like.”

Of the 52 children receiving a comprehensive eye exam:

26 have an eye condition that required treatment and monitoring
14 needed glasses right away
8 are likely to need glasses eventually, and therefore require monitoring
2 were found to be colour deficient
9 required treatment for strabismus, or lazy eye, which may result in permanently reduced vision if not treated at a young age

Sixty per cent of children with literacy problems have an undiagnosed vision problem, and those who struggle in school often get labelled as problem learners. Eye exams before a child begins school are crucial for a child’s education.

OAO recommends that every child has a comprehensive eye exam at six months old, three years old and every year thereafter. In Ontario, eye exams with an optometrist are covered by OHIP until the age of 19. For children entering junior kindergarten, the Eye See…Eye Learn® program provides complimentary glasses to children if they are prescribed, so that they, like this year’s kindergarten students at Paisley Road, enter school ready to learn to the best of their abilities.

Learn more about the Eye See…Eye Learn® program at www.EyeSeeEyeLearn.com.