Vision Care - Birth Through Adolescence
Would you know if your child had a vision problem? Chances are, probably
not. Most vision problems have no easy-to-detect symptoms, which makes
it almost impossible to tell if your child has difficulty seeing.
Each year, less than 14 per cent of children entering grade one has a
comprehensive eye exam. This is despite the fact that an estimated one
in four has a vision problem significant enough to impair their ability
When should my child receive his or her first eye exam?
Answer: Between six and nine months of age!
Many vision problems can be detected at this stage
and the earlier a condition is caught, the higher the chance of
correction. If vision problems go undetected, young children may not
even realize that anything is wrong because they assume that everyone
sees the same way they do. Children should have their second eye exam
between the ages of two and five, and one every year after that.
What about school screenings? Aren't they enough?
A screening checks for 20/20 vision, but it
doesn't check for eye health or measure any of the other vision skills
needed for learning such as eye coordination, peripheral awareness,
eye/hand coordination, etc. Vision screenings are a useful tool but
they shouldn't be a substitute for a complete eye exam.
What can I do?
Changes in vision can occur without you or your child realizing it and
without obvious symptoms. Annual eye exams are covered for all children
ages 0-18 so there is no reason not to have your child's eyes examined
Kindergarten students are also able to take part in the Eye See... Eye
Learn program which provides free eyeglasses for children who require
Be alert for symptoms that may indicate your child has a vision problem.
Note if your child frequently:
- Loses his or her place while reading.
- Avoids close work.
- Holds reading material closer than normal.
- Tilts head to use only one eye or closes one eye.
- Makes reversals when reading or writing.
- Omits or confuses small words when reading.
- Performs below potential at school.
- Rubs eyes frequently or has headaches.
If your child routinely displays one or more of these behaviours, make
an appointment with a Doctor of Optometry/Optometrist right away. Use the Find an Optometrist link in the top left corner to find a doctor of optometry near you.
Be Easy On The Eyes!
Following a few simple rules can help ensure you are helping to look after your child's eyes the best you can.
- Make sure homework areas are evenly lit and free from glare.
- Furniture should be the right size for proper posture.
- During periods of close concentration (reading, video games, etc.), have your child take periodic breaks.
- When watching TV, be sure the room has overall soft lighting and the TV is free of glare.
- Watch TV from a distance at least five times the width of the screen.
- Encourage time for exercise and creative play.
- Teach your child proper eye safety skills
(not running with sharp objects, wearing goggles, not shooting
projectile toys at faces, etc.)
If your child's eyes need help...
|| After your child's eye exam, glasses, contact
lenses or vision therapy may be prescribed. Preventive measures, such
as mild prescription lenses to be worn only when doing schoolwork or
watching television may also be recommended. These may help relieve
stress on your child's eyes.
Vision therapy is prescribed for conditions that cannot be treated with
glasses or contact lenses alone. By reinforcing or re-teaching vision
skills, conditions such as poor eye coordination, movement, lazy eye and
perceptual problems can be improved.
Your care and concern for your child's vision can enrich his or her
future while helping develop eye care habits for a lifetime of good
For more information, check out our FAQ for Parents.
Use the Find an Optometrist link in the top left corner to find a doctor of optometry near you, or call us at 1-800-272-8843.