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When to have your child’s eyes examined

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For school-age children, regular eye health exams are important. Eye exams help uncover vision problems, detect eye diseases early and help preserve vision long-term. The Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends that you have your child’s eyes checked every year.

A child’s vision can change often, and unexpectedly, from ages 6 to 18; vision problems left uncorrected can interfere with learning and lead to behavioral issues.

Some schools offer vision screenings, and your pediatrician may include a vision screening in your child’s annual visit. But a screening is not the same as a comprehensive eye exam.  Screenings can reveal a possible vision problem, but only a comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist can tell if your child’s eye are developing properly. Many eye health problems can be treated if they are caught early. For example, a lazy eye can be completely corrected if it is detected and treated early.

Most health insurance plans cover pediatric eye exams. Check your plan for coverage of lenses and frames so you’ll know what to expect if your child needs glasses.

Eye exams also make sure your child is able to learn. Children who cannot see the board, focus on a picture or follow words in a book may struggle to achieve their full learning potential. Vision problems can also impact their hand-eye coordination for physical activities and even impact their social development. Parents may also not be aware that vision problems can cause speech difficulties; lead to developmental delays; or be the cause of short attention spans in children.

Optometrists also play a role in monitoring children with diabetes, one of the most common chronic diseases among children and youth in Canada. Optometrists look for telltale signs of diabetic retinopathy, which damages the small blood vessels in the retina.

The Ontario Assoication of Optometrists suggests booking an eye exam right away if parents notice any of the following symptoms:

Does your child behave in a way that could suggest a vision problem? 

  • Does not watch or follow an object
  • Touches things to help recognize them
  • Does not make eye contact
  • Closes or covers one eye
  • Squints or frowns when looking far or near
  • Rubs or touches the eyes a lot
  • Blinks more than usual
  • Reacts strongly to light
  • Turns or tilts head when viewing objects
  • Holds objects very close to face
  • Dislikes near tasks
  • Loses interest quickly or becomes irritable with visual activities
  • Has poor depth perception or trouble seeing 3D
  • Trips, falls or bumps into things often
  • Is uncoordinated for play activities and sports

Does your child have difficulties with learning?

  • Has poor posture when reading/writing
  • Has poor handwriting
  • Moves head, loses place, skips lines when reading
  • Uses more effort than normal to complete school work
  • Works hard but is not achieving the expected level at school

Book an eye exam with one of our dedicated optometrists at LMC and make sure your child’s eye health and vision are taken care of. 

Is your child going into junior kindergarten?  Find out more about the Eye See Eye Learn program for this age group. 

Written by Sagar Hamidi

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