Vision Health for School-Age Children
Vision is one of the most important senses for child development. Research shows that 80 per cent of children’s learning is gained through their eyes. However, one in four school-age children may have a vision problem that if left undetected can affect their learning and development. Young children may not know that they have a vision problem and assume that everyone sees the way they do. For parents/caregivers, there is often no obvious signs or symptoms to indicate that their child has a vision problem.
Comprehensive Eye Exam
It is recommended that all children have a comprehensive eye exam before entering school and every year afterwards. OHIP covers an annual eye exam for children up to 19 years old. Make an appointment by finding an optometrist near you and in a language of your choice. Don’t forget to bring your child’s OHIP card with you to the appointment.
Students in junior kindergarten are eligible for a free pair of eye glasses if needed through the Eye See Eye Learn program when they go to participating optometrists.
The comprehensive eye exam by an optometrist involves the use of various machines and eye drops to enlarge the pupils. There might be some discomfort with the light but it is pain free. The whole exam will take approximately one hour, including waiting time for the eye drops to take effect.
Common Vision Problems in Children
- Far-sightedness – condition in which one can see distant objects clearly but 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 – condition where close objects appear clearly but distant objects appear blurry. It affects children’s ability to see the blackboard or the screen at the front of the class.
- Astigmatism – condition 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.
Obtaining Free Eye Glasses
Eye See Eye Learn – a program for junior kindergarten students only. It provides a comprehensive eye exam by an optometrist that is covered by OHIP. If a child requires glasses, a complimentary pair will be provided.
One Sight – through a voucher program, eligible children can receive a free pair of glasses if referred by a non-profit organization.