October is Eye Health and Safety Month – Children’s Vision
Every year the Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) promotes the importance of regular eye examinations through their October Eye Health Campaigns. This year’s Canada Eye Health Month spotlights the importance of children’s vision and learning:
More than 85% of a child’s learning is based on vision.
Identifying eye health issues at this age is critical, as they can begin to affect children’s critical learning gaps and are very likely to arise in these critical developmental ages.
One in five children has a vision disorder. Not knowing any differently, many of these children accept poor vision and other eye problems as normal.
Not all children’s eye conditions have obvious symptoms. The best way to protect your child’s eye health is having regular eye exams performed by an eye doctor.
The BCDO (BC Doctors of Optometry) encourages parents to have their child’s eyes examined by an optometrist at 6 months, 3 years, then at least annually after that until age 20 (BC MSP covers children eye exams even as frequently as every six months due to the ever changing status of a child’s constantly developing visual system): Eye exams for those under 19 years of age are 100% covered by your BC Care card with no copay or out of pocket expense to you. Furthermore, only at Image Optometry can you participate in our unique `Gift of Sight` program where those in need will also receive completely free prescription eye glasses if required. Early intervention means a better prognosis and usually requires a far less aggressive treatment.
Has your child had their 1st eye exam yet? If not, schedule one now during children’s vision month to make sure your child does not have a vision disorder. Eye exams at Image Optometry are fun, and quick and painless! Your child doesn’t need to know their A-B-C’s or even talk yet, our eye doctors have other ways of accurately determining what your child can see.
So what’s stopping you?
Remember, children rarely report their own vision problems because of not knowing differently, many of these children accept poor vision and other eye problems as normal and believe everyone sees the world as they do. Very few parents understand the need for early life eye exams because you can’t always “look” into your child’s eyes to tell if they have eye health problems.
A recent survey of 400 Canadian optometrists found that only 10% of their patients are below the age of 11 or under. Since 85% of learning is acquired directly through vision, it is important to give your child a head start with clear vision and healthy eyes before they begin school. Children who cannot see the board, focus on a picture or follow words in a book may struggle to achieve their full learning potential. Routine eye exams can identify refractive errors (far or near-sightedness), turned or ‘lazy’ eyes and other ocular pathology.
School screenings and public health nurse screenings barely scratch the surface. Many of the most important visual-learning disorders are not tested for and no ocular health conditions are checked.
Retinoblastoma is the most common eye cancer in children and occurs in approximately 1 in 20,000 births. Many children are diagnosed before age 2 and 95% are diagnosed in children aged 4 or younger. If left untreated, this cancer is almost always fatal, but with early detection and modern treatment, the survival rate is over 90%. Early detection is critical!
Help your child see smarter – visit an actual optometrist early and regularly!
Also, keep in mind more than 15-20 million children suffer from vision impairment, and eye injuries are one of the leading causes of vision loss in children in North America – the vast majority of visual impairment is readily treatable and/or preventable. There are an estimated 42,000 sports-related eye injuries each year in the US and the majority of them happen to children.
Given that Halloween is right around the corner, a child’s checklist should include:
- Children should wear reflective clothing on Halloween. Contact any optometrist for free “Be Safe, Be Seen” reflective clothing stickers.
- Wearing protective eye wear while participating in sports or other recreational activities
- Playing with are age-appropriate toys. Avoid toys with sharp or protruding parts, projectiles or falling objects, sticks (ie. hockey sticks) or other ‘pointy’ rods.
- Chemicals – whether corrosive or hot.
- Avoiding dust and sun exposure.
The best way to ensure your child maintains good vision throughout life is to set a good example by making eye health (and eye health checks) part of your routine.
All of our Image Optometry locations are proud supporters of Raise a Reader: