How well can your child see?

A new survey reports that 61% of Canadian parents mistakenly believe they would know if their child was having difficulty with their eyesight.

The fact is, it’s difficult to determine if your child has healthy eyes and most children don’t show obvious symptoms because they assume everyone sees the way they do.

October is Children’s Vision Month, and local optometrists, Dr. Jason Holtom from Eye Studio and Dr. Kevin Hesterman from Red Deer Eye Care want to remind Red Deer residents that annual eye exams from an optometrist are covered by Alberta Health for children and teens up to age 19.

“It’s important for children to have regular eye exams, so serious eye conditions can be identified and properly managed,” says Dr. Holtom.

It’s recommended that children receive their first eye exam at six months of age; their second, by the age of three; their third before starting Kindergarten and each year after starting school.

“A child with an undetected vision problem can easily fall behind in school,” says Dr. Hesterman. “Poor vision can delay a child’s development, making learning and coordination for physical activities difficult.”

Each year, fewer than 14% of Canadian children under the age of six receive an eye exam before starting school, despite the fact that an estimated one in four school-aged children have a vision problem significant enough to impair their ability to learn.

In Alberta, a program called Eye See…Eye Learn® is offered through the Alberta Association of Optometrists, which gives children in kindergarten a comprehensive eye examination by a Doctor of Optometry, and if required, a complimentary pair of glasses.

“This program is in place to increase each child’s access to vision care and to raise awareness of common eye conditions,” says Dr. Holtom.

Last year, 19,888 five-year-olds in Alberta had eye exams and of those tested, 1,783 needed glasses and received a complimentary pair through the Eye See…Eye Learn® program.

To learn more about the Eye See … Eye Learn ® program and to find an optometrist in your community visit, http://ab.doctorsofoptometry.ca/.

Ceilidh McMeekin

Red Deer

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