August is Children’s Eye Health And Safety Month! August is the time of year when families look ahead to September and begin to prepare children to go back to school. As a part of your annual back to school preparations of buying duotangs and pencils, include an annual eye exam. Having your children’s eyes examined before school will help you to remember to schedule this event every year and it will ensure your child is not impeded by vision impairments when they go to classes. Annual eye exams are important for children for many reasons, including academic performance, the early detection of eye conditions, reduction of eye pain and symptoms, and staying up-to-date on their eyeglasses prescription.
The Importance Of Children’s Eye Exams
Eyesight And Learning
The majority of learning is visual. From reading the board at the front of the class to seeing worksheets on a desk, eyesight is at the centre of learning. When a child has trouble distinguishing shapes, numbers, letters, and colours, they tend to struggle in school and fall behind in their education. If children do not receive eye exams to determine if their issues in school are related to vision, it is often assumed that the child has cognitive delays or learning disabilities. Although many schools offer resources for these, they will be of no help if the actual condition of vision impairment is not addressed.
Eyesight and learning are also emotionally linked. Children often do not voice their frustrations and tell an adult that they are having trouble nor do they understand that their visual perception of the world may be different from other children. When children then do not succeed in school at the same rate as their peers, they may feel insecure or frustrated. This can create resentment towards school which increases their negative feelings and discourages learning.
Reduction Of Eye Irritation And Other Symptoms
When vision is blurred, people tend to focus their eyes subconsciously. This can lead to eyestrain, eye fatigue, and headaches as the eyes continuously try to focus. Children who participated in online learning during the pandemic may also have symptoms of digital eye strain such as dry eyes, blurred vision, and neck, shoulder, and back pain. Regular eye exams can not only offer treatment options to reduce eye irritation and painful symptoms of undiagnosed vision problems, but they can also rule out other conditions as the cause of these symptoms.
Early Detection Of Eye Conditions
Certain eye conditions may develop in early childhood and they can be treated more easily if detected early. Conditions such as lazy eye (amblyopia), crossed eyes (strabismus), and colour blindness tend to either develop or become more apparent during early childhood. Developmental delays, such as a lack of depth perception, are also often detected during early childhood. When children are in an active and interactive environment such as school, it can become more apparent that they have an eye condition, but if there is no eye exam to determine what condition they have, the source of their difficulties can go undiagnosed and there can be no meaningful improvement.
Keep Up With Vision Changes
While everyone should have annual eye exams for the safety of their eye health, regularly scheduled eye exams are even more important for children. Since children grow so rapidly, their eyes also develop very quickly. Because of this, they are more likely to change prescriptions over a shorter period of time, and having annual eye exams will ensure their prescription stays up-to-date.
Comprehensive Children’s Eye Exams In Calgary And Three Hills
Monitoring your child’s vision and eye health will prevent any conditions from worsening while allowing children to thrive in school with optimal vision. An eye doctor will be able to diagnose any refractive errors or eye conditions and determine a prescription or plan of action to address these issues. At My Optometrist, our Three Hills and Calgary optometrists are here to help your child always see clearly and comfortably. To book eye exams with one of our eye doctors, contact My Optometrist at one of our three locations at Health First in SE Calgary, Sunridge in NE Calgary, or Three Hills, AB. You can also call us or fill out the online contact form.
Q: I don’t have optical insurance. What can I do to get my child the eye care they need?
A: Any Alberta resident under the age of 18 has their eye exams covered by provincial insurance and any Alberta resident of any age is covered by the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP) for emergency eye care. If your child needs glasses and is kindergarten-aged, they may be eligible for the Eye See Eye Learn program. The Eye See Eye Learn program provides a free pair of prescription eyeglasses to children who need them. If you would like to participate in Eye See Eye Learn, talk to a Calgary eye doctor at My Optometrist.
Q: My child received vision screening at school. Do they still need eye exams?
A: Yes, they do. A vision test only monitors a child’s ability to see whereas children’s eye exams with a registered eye doctor examines the eye to look for any signs of disease, injury, or developmental issues.
Q: When should my child get a children’s eye exam?
A: You should take your child for their first children’s eye exam when they are 6 months old. Another children’s eye exam is recommended again at 3 years old, and another at 5 years old. After that, it should be an annual routine. Once a person reaches young adulthood, at approximately 19 years of age, it may be advised to transition to bi-annual eye exams or as recommended by your optometrist.