October is Children’s Vision Awareness month

October is Children’s Vision Awareness month

During which time optometric associations across Canada dedicate to raising awareness of the impact undiagnosed vision problems can have on a child’s learning and development.

What should that mean to you and your family? Have you thought about the wonders of sight, and how you can best protect and enhance your sight for life?

INFANTS: It starts from birth, when we hope that new life meets the world with the ability to see, hear, touch, breath, and simply be as healthy as can be. An infant eye exam should be done by six months old to ensure that the visual system is intact. Your Optometrist is able to assess the vision and focus system, the eye muscles, and the eye health all with careful observations while your child is comfortably held in your lap. Early detection of limitations of the vision development are critical to being able to prevent permanent vision problems.

TODDLERS: As children grow, and are able to respond to more tests, the eye exam becomes more detailed. Our doctors are assessing not only for blurred vision, but also for vision problems that cause difficulty in tracking, focusing, and eye strain. Many of these vision related problems can affect the ability to learn. In fact, 80% of learning is visual. Problems with the alignment and balanced vision can cause forms of amblyopia, known as ‘lazy eye’, or simply make seeing, and ultimately learning, less comfortable or efficient. It is critical to correct the vision system in the first seven years of life, and to continue to best integrate the vision system.

SCHOOL YEARS: As the body grows, so are the eyes changing. Near sightedness, far sightedness, astigmatism, and combinations of any of these eye conditions, can start at any age, often without obvious symptoms. It is helpful to remind parents that children quickly adapt to their world- they don’t necessarily know when blurred vision is not normal. They might not realize that feeling sleepy when reading, or losing their place when copying notes, is actually because of their eyes. They may start to avoid reading and studying, and even start feeling self conscious about their ability to learn. Most learning is done up close, and there are at least 17 visual skills required for reading and learning, including eye teaming, focusing, alignment, spacial awareness, and depth perception.

A comprehensive eye exam will look beyond the ’20/20’ distance vision screening. When difficulties are found to limit how hard the eyes have to work, how well they work together, we can often help even without glasses! It could mean simple counselling such as proper vision breaks, how to hold reading material and digital screens, simple eye exercises, or in some cases, more detailed vision therapy, which your eye doctors can either take care of within their clinic, or may refer to other renters. We can educate about the best way to wear glasses, when contact lenses can be considered, if tinted lenses can help for glare or for digital relief.

On the topic of digital exposure…. Your child’s eyes get a workout at home with computers, video games and homework. Make sure the rooms are eye-friendly by reducing glare and offering soft overall light. Encourage periodic breaks from digital screens to give their eyes a much-needed break. Optometrists recommend the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break and focus on something at least 20 feet away. Balance computer time with plenty of creative, outdoor and quiet play – their eyes, developing minds, and their growing bodies will thank you. See our included Canadian Association of Optometrists guide for Children’s Vision and Screen Time.

And parents and grandparents, don’t forget about yourself! You deserve to enjoy life with best possible vision and eye health. This is what your Optometrist does for you:

ADULTS: Your Optometrist sees more than your eyes. Every comprehensive eye exam includes an assessment of your current vision, your prescription and best potential vision, your eye muscle and neurologic system, and then integrates all of the results to recommend how to best correct or prevent identified vision problems. Following the vision assessment, a detailed eye health assessment is done including digital imaging, to look for many common eye diseases that you often hear about- cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and retinal problems; as well as Systemic related (diseases of the body): Diabetes, Thyroid disease, High Blood Pressure, Tumours/ Stroke/ Seizures, and many more. A thorough review of your health history, symptoms and medications is part of your complete eye exam. The eye health component allows your Optometrist a view of the fine blood vessels and nerves in the eye, along with special imaging and visual field tests to find signs and risk factors of conditions that could identify early identification or changes in these and other medical conditions. We work closely with family doctors and Ophthalmologists to triage advanced treatment where needed.

SENIORS: You’ve worked hard for years, raised children, and now you have managed to find time to rest, to travel, to enjoy hobbies. But has your health and your vision cooperated? Your Optometrist can ensure that you have the best possible, most comfortable vision, with appropriate prescription, well chosen lens and coatings, sunglasses. We are the general physicians for your eyes! We can help make choices on how to care for dry, irritable eyes, counsel re protection against age related and genetic risk factors, with dietary advise and other care plans. And of course, ensuring we keep up to date with eye health changes that can be monitored and treatment plans discussed to help you get the best surgical care when needed, and support you following those referrals. We can make the best of your vision, and strive to enhance your sight for life.


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  • Health First Optometry
    *new location for health plus and south calgary eyecare - now health first optometry!