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An undetected vision problem can impact your child

Thousands of Ontario children begin grade one each year with an undetected vision problem. 

 

Each year, less than 14 per cent[1] of children entering grade one have had a comprehensive eye exam. Considering one in four school age children has some form of vision problem[2], it means significant numbers of children start school with a major disadvantage no one knows about.

“Parents mistakenly believe they would know if their child was having difficulty with their eyesight,” says Dr. Glen Chiasson of Liberty Village Eye Care. “But the truth is that most vision problems have no easy-to-detect symptoms, making it almost impossible for parents to know if their child has one.”

 

October is Children’s Vision Month, and the Ontario Doctors of Optometry wants to remind parents to book eye exams for their children at their local optometrist’s office to help ensure their children are not living with an undetected vision problem.

 

“Approximately 60 per cent[3] of children that have difficulty reading actually have an undiagnosed vision problem,” says Dr. Chiasson. “As champions for children’s eye health, we feel it is our responsibility to educate as many parents as possible about the important link between vision and learning.”

 

Poor vision is known to delay a child’s development, making learning and coordination for physical activities difficult. An estimated 80 per cent[4] of all learning is visual, so it’s easy to understand why a child with an undetected vision problem can quickly fall behind in school.

 

In Ontario, some schools may offer vision screening programs that many parents and teachers misconstrue as a comprehensive eye exam.

 

“While vision screening tests the ability to see clearly at a distance, a comprehensive eye exam looks at all aspects of a child’s visual function and eye health,” says Chiasson. “It is important to recognize that vision screening is a limited procedure, not equivalent to a comprehensive eye exam. In fact, studies have shown that approximately 43 per cent[5] of children with vision problems are able to pass a vision screening test.”

 

In Ontario, annual eye exams performed by a doctor of optometry are covered by OHIP  for children and teens up to age 19. Unlike a vision screening test, a comprehensive eye exam looks at all aspects of a child’s eye health, including how well the eyes focus up close, how the eyes work together and the overall health and function of the eyes and vision.

 

The Canadian Association of Optometry recommends children have their first eye exam between six and nine months old, again between two and five, and annually after that.

“An eye exam can change a child’s future,” says Dr. Chiasson. “Identifying vision problems when a child is entering school will help ensure the child is able to reach their full potential and prevent early struggles to read and learn.”

 

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Disclaimer: Ontario Doctors of Optometry  has created this editorial on behalf of  Dr Glen Chiasson .



[1] National Coalition for Vision Health, 2011

[2] [2]National Coalition for Vision Health, 2011

[3] National Coalition for Vision Health, 2011

[4] Joel Zaba, MD, OD, 2001

[5] Eye See….Eye Learn (2015). OAO