The Ontario Association of Optometrists recommends that children have their first eye exam at 6 months of age and again at 2-3 year of age and every year after that. In Ontario, eye exams for all children 19 years old and under are covered by OHIP.
As recommended I took my 3 year old daughter to her optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam. To my surprise, she had a vision problem.
Did she have any signs? NO.
Did you know a child can have no signs of a vision problem? Without receiving a regular eye exam, vision problems are not diagnosed or treated.
1 in 4 children may have an undiagnosed vision problem that can make it difficult to learn.
Four common vision problems in children:
- Far-sightedness – where one can see distant objects clearly and objects nearby may be blurry. It affects children’s readiness to read and may lead to more serious vision problem if left uncorrected.
- Near-sightedness – where close objects appear clearly and distant objects appear blurry. It affects children’s ability to see the blackboard or screen at the front of the class.
- Astigmatism – where the eye fails to focus the light properly to produce a clear image.
- Amblyopia – a serious condition in which the two eyes do not work together, such as one eye looks inward or outward. If not corrected early (by age six), it might lead to blindness in one eye.
Research shows more than 80% of the information your child learns is presented visually. If your child is not able to see clearly, this would impact their learning.
If your child requires eye glasses, here are some tips:
- Let go of the guilt! As a parent guilt is a normal and common feeling when our child is diagnosed with a lifestyle change. You are not alone!
- Let your child know it’s ok and normalize feelings
- Set up your child for success by letting them take the lead in choosing their glasses (favourite colour or specific designs)
- Celebrate the fact that the glasses will help their eyes be healthier
- Communicate your child’s vision plan with their teacher or other caregiver
Check out some programs which offer free eye glasses for children.
Use these developmental milestones to mark early vision development and the progress of your child as they grow. If your child is suspected of being blind or having low vision, visit Toronto Public Health’s Blind-Low Vision Early Intervention Program.