Optometrists help detect and treat vision and eye health problems early, allowing children to reach their full learning potential. Here are four reasons why parents should book regular comprehensive eye exams for their children:
1. Eighty per cent of learning is visual. Impaired vision in the classroom can hinder a child's ability to learn and perform. Children may have difficulty seeing the board or absorbing what they read. This coupled with eye strain and headaches can make for a very unpleasant school experience. Undetected and untreated vision problems can also elicit some of the same signs and symptoms that are commonly attributed to issues such as ADHD, dyslexia, and speech problems.
2. Many eye conditions and diseases go undetected. Eye exams are important for charting a child's eye health and ensuring they have the visual skills necessary for learning and development. But did you know they're also key to overall health maintenance? Optometrists are able to look at the structural development of the eye and identify underlying health conditions such as retinoblastoma (the most common type of eye cancer in children) and diabetes.
3. Eye exams are not the same as vision screening or sight tests. Many children participate in vision screening or sight test programs at school, which some parents misinterpret as a comprehensive eye exam. These school-based tests are limited and can't be used to diagnose a vision or eye health problem. Studies have shown that vision screening tests have high error rates — nearly half of children with a problem are able to pass undetected.
4. Children's eye exams are covered by Ontario Health. Ontario Health covers the cost of annual eye exams for children until they turn 19 years old. Optometrists recommend children have their first comprehensive eye exam between six and nine months, their second between the ages of two and five, and one every year after that.