It is particularly important for school aged children to have eye exams before entering the school system as they may not "know" that they are not seeing everything the same as others. This was familiar to me as I watched Sarah's Story a video that demonstrates the importance of getting your child's eyes checked early. My son received his first pair of glasses when he was in grade three. I assumed that since my husband and I don't have vision problems that he wouldn't either. We noticed him squinting all the time and decided to have his eyes examined and I really wished we had gotten his them checked sooner! It turns our he requires a very strong prescription and didn't see clearly until he was 8 years old!
The Ontario Association of Optometrists recognizes the important link between eye health and learning, and recommends comprehensive eye examinations for all children entering kindergarten. The Eye See...Eye Learn® program will help make sure our kindergarten students get the best start to learning.
Read below to find out the solution offered by the OAO.
· Each year, fewer than 10 per cent of children have an eye exam before entering school, despite the fact that 25 per cent of all children have a vision problem significant enough to impair their ability to learn.[i] Eye exams can also detect asymptomatic, but potentially life-threatening, eye conditions.
o Five to 10 per cent of preschool children have an undetected vision problem[ii]
o Approximately 60 per cent of children with literacy problems have an undiagnosed vision problem[iii]
o 80 per cent of all learning is visual,[iv] so children who cannot see the board or focus on a picture or follow words in a book may struggle to achieve their full learning potential
o Vision problems can impact a child’s hand-eye coordination for physical activities and even their social development
· To ensure Ontarians understand the importance of comprehensive eye examinations for children, the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO) has launched a video called Sarah’s Story and expanded the Eye See…Eye Learn® program.
o The Eye See…Eye Learn® program allows children entering Junior Kindergarten to receive a comprehensive eye examination, provided by a Doctor of Optometry
o If the child requires a pair of glasses, they will receive them free of charge through the program
o The eye exams for children are covered under provincial health insurance (or OHIP) when you show the child’s health card, meaning that there is no out-of-pocket cost for the eye exam
o Comprehensive eye examinations enable Doctors of Optometry to diagnose and treat children with eye health and vision problems before they begin grade one
· Doctors of Optometry, in comparison to opticians, are able to test and diagnose eye disease through an oculo-visual assessment[v]
· OAO’s video, Sarah’s Story, highlights the value that regular eye examinations by a Doctor of Optometry can provide for children with undiagnosed vision and health-related problems
· OAO encourages all parents across the province to ensure their children’s eyes are examined by a Doctor of Optometry at 6 months of age, three years of age and then every 12 months after that (or as recommended by an optometrist). Parents in participating regions are encouraged to book their children for their Eye See…Eye Learn® exam.
o Data from nine participating regions show that for nearly 81 per cent of the children participating in the ESEL program, the ESEL eye exam is the child’s first eye exam
o On average, 12 per cent of children that are receiving their first eye exam through participation in the ESEL program are prescribed glasses
§ In some regions this number is as high as 16 per cent
o For more information on the Eye See…Eye Learn® program, please visitwww.eyeseeeyelearn.ca/
[ii] Robinson, Bobier and Martin, 1999/2000
[iv] Imus, HA. Visual efficiency. Hygeia, The Health Magazine. 1941:1-8
[v]College of Optometrists of Ontario. http://www.collegeoptom.on.ca/governance/scopeofpractice.asp