Dr. Michael Lewis


Vision and Learning

The Importance of Children's Eye Health

Much of what a child learns comes through their visual system. If a child is struggling in school, they may have poor visual function. As a parent, you want to do everything you can to help your child succeed.

Studies show that children who have problems with spelling, reading, writing, math, and/or many social skills are often deficient in the execution of many types of eye movements.

  • Poor convergence - When viewing an object, the eyes should converge at the same point in space. If they are unable to aim at the same spot, then the person may experience double or overlapping vision. This occurs when both eyes fail to work together, resulting in convergence insufficiency.
  • Poor tracking - Tracking deals with focusing on a moving target as well as the ability to switch between two targets. Poor tracking can affect one’s ability to follow a single line of text or see a ball flying through the air.
  • Poor Orientation - Someone with poor orientation may have a difficult time judging where they are in relation to other people and objects in space. This can result poor spatial awareness, leading to clumsiness and poor performance in sports.
  • Poor visualization - Visualization, the ability to create mental images, is important for spelling, reading comprehension and math. Someone with poor visualization may have difficulty grasping the concept of numbers or visualizing a word’s spelling in their mind.

Are you aware…

Only 10% of Ontario children under the age of 4 and 14% under 6 received a comprehensive eye exam from an optometrist in 2013. Research shows that undiagnosed vision problems often undermine a young person’s chance of success at school, and only comprehensive eye exams can detect childhood eye diseases and visual problems that can be corrected while the child is young.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the warning signs that a child might need glasses?

  • Consistently sitting too close to the TV or holding a book too close
  • Losing his or her place while reading
  • Finger pointing while reading
  • Squinting
  • Tilting the head to see better
  • Frequent eye rubbing
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Excessive tearing
  • Closing one eye to read, watch TV or see better
  • Avoiding activities that require near vision, such as reading or homework, or distance vision, such as participating in sports or other recreational activities
  • Frequent headaches
  • Receiving lower grades than usual

At what age should a child have an eye exam?

According to the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO), infants should have their first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months of age. Children then should receive additional eye exams at 3 years of age, and just before they enter kindergarten or the first grade at about age 5 or 6. This commitment to early detection is the best way to ensure your child’s healthy vision for successful development, now and in the future.

A child’s vision problems can easily go undetected. Vision problems aren’t always obvious to the parents or the child. Children have no form of comparison and they do not always display symptoms for caregivers to notice. The only way to truly know how well your child can see is through a thorough eye exam. In Ontario, Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) covers annual comprehensive eye exams for children up to 19 years of age, so there is no out of pocket cost for parents.

What is the Eye See...Eye Learn Program?

Eyecare Kingston is helping to raise awareness of the Eye See...Eye Learn Program in Ontario, that promotes eye exams for children, and recommends comprehensive eye examinations for all children entering kindergarten. Did you know your child may be eligible for a free eye exam and a free pair of glasses (if required)?

Currently, children born in 2010 qualify for the program, however starting July 1, 2015, children born in 2011 will quality for the program.

For more information, visit www.EyeSeeEyeLearn.ca

Watch Eye See… Eye Learn® - CTV Morning Live - March 24, 2015


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