Did you know that 1 in 4 children has a vision problem? According to the Ontario Association of Optometrists, 80% of what a child learns in the first 12 years of life comes with their ability to process information through their visual system. Undiagnosed vision problems often cause children to struggle in school and can unfortunately prevent them from reaching their fullest intellectual potential.
It is recommended that children have their first eye exam at 6 months of age. Optometrists are trained to check the vision and ocular health of infants and children to make sure that their eyes are developing properly and to ensure that they can perform their best in the classroom. There are many objective tests (that do not require active participation by the child) that the doctor can do to determine what the child is seeing and if they need a spectacle correction.
Many vision problems that occur in children can be corrected if they are caught early, including Amblyopia and Strabismus (commonly referred to as ‘lazy eye’). In many cases, parents assume that their child can see properly because they do not complain. However, a child will assume that what they are seeing is normal when in reality they don’t know what normal vision looks like. Some common symptoms that suggest your child may be having a vision problem include, headaches, squinting, eyestrain, hyperactivity, and an inability to focus on homework. In many cases, if your child is not performing well in school, it may simply be because they cannot see clearly or have a binocular vision disorder that makes them uncomfortable when reading or doing any near work. If you notice any of these symptoms it is very important to schedule your child for a complete eye exam with an optometrist.
In Ontario, OHIP covers annual eye exams for children until the age of 19.