Just recently I received my new (and first set) of eye glasses after my first eye exam I’ve had in years!
My eye sight worsened along the years and I sadly ignored seeing an optometrist in hopes that it would get better on its own.
This is the false assumption many parents have when it comes to their children’s eyes.
At least for me it was.
It’s recommended that your child have an eye examination at least once every two years-more frequently if specific problems or risk factors exist, or if recommended by your eye doctor.
They offer vision screening tests in schools typically starting at grade 2 but unfortunately, parents and educators often incorrectly assume that if a child passes a school screening, then there is no vision problem.
Many school vision screenings only test for distance visual acuity. A child who can see 20/20 can still have a vision problem. In reality, the vision skills needed for successful reading and learning are much more complex.
A child needs many abilities to succeed in school. Good vision is a key.
When certain visual skills have not developed, or are poorly developed, learning is difficult and stressful, and children will typically:
- Avoid reading and other near visual work as much as possible.
- Attempt to do the work anyway, but with a lowered level of comprehension or efficiency.
- Experience discomfort, fatigue and a short attention span.
According to the Canadian Association of Optometrists, over 25% of school age children have vision problems with studies showing a direct correlation between poor eye health and poor performance in class and in other areas of a child’s life.
Here are some signs that your child may need an eye exam:
For many children, squinting is a common sign of a potential vision problem. That’s because when you squint it reduces the size of a blurry image on the back of your retina, making it temporarily easier to see. Squinting not only means that your child may require vision correction, but could also be the symptom of a more serious condition.
2. Tilting the head
If you see your child tilting their head to one side, it may be the sign of an eye muscle imbalance known as strabismus. This imbalance causes double vision when your child looks in a certain direction. Titling the head to one side can minimize this double vision and may be a sign your child requires vision correction.
3. Covering one eye to read or watch TV
If you see your child covering one eye, it could be the sign of an uncorrected vision issue. That’s because covering an eye is simply an easy way for a child to “turn off” the eye that’s giving them problems. Covering one eye can also be a sign of double vision or even a more serious medical condition such as cataracts.
4. Light sensitivity
If your child tends to squint or feel uncomfortable when exposed to bright light, it could be the sign of exotropia, a type of eye muscle imbalance that results in squinting and light sensitivity. Be sure to speak to your optometrist immediately if you think your child might be overly sensitive to light.
5. Frequent headaches
Children with undiagnosed farsightedness often experience painful headaches from the strain of trying to compensate for their blurry vision. Headaches can also be related to other potentially serious eye issues and your child should be examined right away by your vision care professional.
Did you know that Loblaw Optical offers a Kids See Free Program?
This program, available at any Optical Department located in Loblaws, Real Canadian Superstore, Zehrs, Fortinos and Your Independent Grocery locations, ensures children ages 4-10 years receive free eyeglasses up to $49.00. This program is now entering its fifth year and has already delivered more than 5,000 pairs of glasses to Canadian kids.
My kids went in for their exams and I was thoroughly impressed with the treatment and care they received at their first eye exam. My son in particular is only 3 years old, but they kindly accepted seeing him as we had some concerns about his eye.
What surprised both my husband and I most was how calm our son was throughout (especially considering he was having a complete stranger touching his face and eyes and asking him tons of questions) and how patient and wonderful the optometrist was with him.
This is a fantastic program, and I strongly encourage all parents/caregivers to take advantage of it. It will be running until the end of the year, so book your appointments in when you can!
Visit loblawstores.ca to find your nearest store with an optical department.
More details on Facebook at Loblaw Optical.