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Ontario’s Optometrists Call on Parents to Get Their Children’s Eyes Checked
Healthy eyes bring better school days for children
As children are settling into the new school year, it’s important that they are seeing properly. With October being Children’s Vision Month, it’s a perfect time for parents to make sure their child is ready to learn – and it starts with an eye exam from an optometrist.
“One in four children in Ontario experience vision-related learning difficulties,” says Dr. Joshua C. Smith, President of the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO). “A comprehensive eye exam is critical in identifying and treating vision problems that may be impacting a child’s ability to learn.”
Eighty per cent of classroom learning is visual making a child’s eyes an essential tool that should not be neglected. Vision problems that go undetected not only cause literacy challenges, but create academic, social and athletic performance barriers. In some cases, a child can be misdiagnosed with a learning disability, rather than a vision problem that can easily be detected and treated by an optometrist.
Only a comprehensive eye exam can detect eye health and vision issues, some of which won’t show any obvious signs or symptoms until the condition is advanced and potentially, more difficult to treat. Early detection allows for an optometrist to successfully correct common conditions like amblyopia (lazy eye) and strabismus (misaligned eyes), which can only be treated while a child is still young.
Many parents don’t realize their child has a vision problem because they assume that they would know or their child would tell them if they were having difficulty seeing. However, children often can’t identify they have a vision problem, because they don’t know what normal vision looks like. Only a comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist can determine if a child has a vision problem.
“Vision plays a significant role in a child’s ability to succeed,” says Dr. Smith. “Parents should ensure their child has no visual barriers to learning, and is seeing and performing their best by booking an eye exam.”
OAO recommends that children have their first eye exam at six months-old, another between the ages of two and five and annually thereafter, to ensure good vision and development. In Ontario, eye exams are covered by OHIP for children up to 19 years-old.
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ABOUT THE ONTARIO ASSOCIATION OF OPTOMETRISTS
The Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO) is the leading professional organization, representing over 1,600 optometrists. We are dedicated to helping our members provide the highest standard of eye health and vision care for Ontarians while driving the profession of optometry forward. For more information: optom.on.ca.
Ontario Association of Optometrists
905-826-3522 ext. 246