The Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) encourages parents to include routine eye exams with an optometrist for children as young as six months and as part of a child’s regular health routine. Eye and vision health conditions do not always have recognizable symptoms and may go undetected. The CAO Frequency Guidelines state that:
οinfants should be seen by 6 months, then
οas toddlers at 3 years, followed by
οjust before entering school, and
Sight tests performed at a school or a family doctors office are not a substitute for an eye exam. A comprehensive eye examination by an optometrist is what is required to assess eye health and provide an early diagnosis of eye issues.
Early detection and treatment of common vision problems such as amblyopia (lazy eye) can result in better scholastic performance than if left untreated. Classroom learning is 80% visual. If a student isn’t seeing well, they’re not performing up to their potential. Studies show that almost 25% of children have undetected vision problems that are holding them back.
Optometrists have, more often than not, found contributing vision issues in children with a learning or reading disability. More than 50% of the parents surveyed do not believe that lazy eye (amblyopia) is a serious lasting eye health issue. In fact, if left undetected it can lead to permanent eye damage and poor vision.
Parents won’t always know if their child has a vision problem!
Optometrists routinely detect vision problems in children who do not display any obvious symptoms. Other serious eye health problems can exist, even with 20/20 vision. A majority of Canadian parents do not believe they’d be able to detect if their children had developed an eye health issue.
If you have a child that is between the ages of six months and nineteen years old, their eye exams are covered by OHIP. A routine annual eye exam should become an essential part of your child’s care.
by Dr. Wesdon McCann