Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it important for my child to have an eye exam before starting school?

  • In Alberta, 25 per cent of children begin grade one with an undiagnosed vision or eye health problem.
  • Vision problems can interfere with a child’s ability to learn during their first critical years in school.
  • For the first 12 years of a child’s life, 80 per cent of learning is visual.
  • Good grades go hand in hand with good vision!

When should my child have a comprehensive eye exam?

  • The Alberta Association of Optometrists recommends children have their first comprehensive eye exam between the ages of six and nine months, their second between the ages of two and five, and one every year after that. 

Do children have to know their ABCs before having an eye exam?

  •  No, it’s recommended that children have their first comprehensive eye exam at just six months of age.
  • Your doctor of optometry usually uses objective techniques such as shapes and pictures to determine your child’s focusing characteristics.  They will also assess your child’s eye health and vision.

What is the cost of a child’s eye exam?

  • Alberta Health Care covers the cost of annual comprehensive eye examinations for all children, until they turn 19.
  • All Albertans are also covered for any medically necessary exams, such as red eyes, eye infection, injury or inflammation of the eye and eyelid.

What problems can be detected during an eye exam?

  • Nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, which can all be corrected with eyeglasses.
  • Lazy eye (amblyopia), which is weak or low vision in one eye as a result of an uncorrected prescription during the early years of development.  It is the leading cause of preventable vision loss.  If detected and treated early, before the age of six, it will often resolve completely. 
  • Crossed eyes (strabismus) is where an eye can turn in or out.  It is a muscle condition in which a child’s eyes are not properly aligned with each other.  Coordination of a child’s eyes, and their ability to work together, starts to develop in infancy.  A child will not outgrow strabismus without treatment; in fact, the condition may become worse.  In an attempt to avoid double vision, the brain eventually disregards the image from one eye and cause vision loss.
  • Eye coordination is the ability of both eyes to work together as a team.  Good eye coordination keeps the eyes in proper alignment, but a minor misalignment of your child’s eyes can cause symptoms like double vision, fatigue and headaches.

Why wouldn’t I know if my child has a vision or eye health problem?

  •  Many vision and eye health conditions have no symptoms, and can only be detected through an eye exam.
  • Even if children are experiencing symptoms, they may not realize it – they assume the way their world looks is normal!

How can a vision problem affect my child’s learning ability?

  • Children who have poor vision often find it difficult to focus on their work, and may even be misdiagnosed with a learning or behavioural disability.
  • Up to 60 per cent of children who are diagnosed with learning disabilities actually have undetected vision problems.

Why do we have to see an optometrist when my family physician has already determined that my child has 20/20 vision?

  • This is probably the biggest misconception about vision and eye health.
  • While a 20/20 vision score is great, it does not mean that your child has all of the vision skills required for healthy learning and development.
  • Comprehensive eye exams do so much more than determine if a child sees well. They also help Doctors of Optometry diagnose, treat and prevent diseases and disorders affecting the eyes and visual systems.

How does the program work?

  • Alberta Health Care covers the cost of comprehensive eye exams for all children until they turn 19.
  • Eye See…Eye Learn™ supplements that coverage by providing free eyeglasses to kindergarten-aged children who require a prescription.
  • The program is administered by the Alberta Association of Optometrists. Children’s eye exams are funded by Alberta Health, and the free eyeglasses, lenses and cases are provided by our partners.
  • You do not need a form.  Just book an appointment with your doctor of optometry and tell them you want to participate in the Eye See . . . Eye Learn program.

Who is eligible?

  • Kindergarten students are eligible to participate in the program from September until they begin grade one.

Does it have to be my child’s first pair of glasses?

  • It does not have to be the child’s first pair of glasses.

What does my child get?

  • Your child will get a comprehensive eye exam, which is covered by Alberta Health Care.
  • If your child is in kindergarten, he/she will also receive a free pair of eyeglasses, as prescribed by a Doctor of Optometry. The glasses are covered by a one year manufacturer’s warranty.