New school year and annual eye exam go hand in hand
A new school year can make for some anxious moments for parents but some of those feelings can be eased knowing your child’s eyes are healthy.
It’s recommended children have their first eye exams between six and nine months of age, then at least one between two and five years of age and then an annual check-up once they start school.
The Canadian Association of Optometrists says less than 14 per cent of children under six have had an eye exam.
“Eighty per cent of learning is through the eyes,” says Dr. Farah Lakhani. “One in four school age children have a vision problem that’s undiagnosed or untreated and sometimes the telltale signs of a vision problem are hard to see.”
Corrine Grant is a mom to three kids and works in the optical industry so she knows the importance of eye exams.
“I had a nephew that when he was three got glasses and he was a very strong plus prescription,” she says. ”It was a whole new world for him so I’ve seen how much of a difference it makes.”
Lakhani says undiagnosed or untreated vision problems can affect learning and development which can prevent a child from reaching their full potential.
“Sixty per cent of children with a reading problem actually have an undiagnosed vision problem and often the signs and symptoms of these vision problems are similar to dyslexia or ADHD.”
She says a comprehensive eye exam can help spot diseases like retinoblastoma but also determine if a child is near-sighted or far-sighted.
“You don’t want to have your kids wear glasses because kids are hard on glasses,” says Grant. “It’s a relief that he’s OK and he can see and if there was a problem to know how to solve it.”
Lakhani says schools do have eye tests but 43 per cent of children with a vision problem can pass those tests and suggests a visit to an optometrist will ensure there are no issues with a child’s eye health.