Article: Your Child's First Eye Exam

Your Child's First Eye Exam

By: Dr. Sara Zahiri, Optometrist, and Findlay Creek Eye Clinic

We often wonder what it would be like if we could see the world through our children's eyes. Well, what if you knew that approximately 20% of Canadian children have a vision related disorder? The fact of the matter is that most parents are not sure of how well their children are seeing. This is because most vision related disorders are very difficult to detect until they are very severe. Young children rarely complain that they are seeing blurry because they often don't know what normal vision should be like. That is why OHIP covers yearly eye exams for children with your local optometrist.

Most parents think that their children need to know their alphabet before they can have their first eye exam. That is not the case, as children should have their first eye exam at the age of 6 months. All children should have their vision checked at least once before the age of 3. An eye doctor will have special equipment to assess and determine whether your child requires glasses even at such an early age.

These yearly eye exams are important. They screen children for certain eye conditions that can affect children at an early age. For example, a common condition that is overlooked by parents is amblyopia or a lazy eye. This occurs when a child has one good eye seeing at 20/20 and another very poor seeing eye. If treated before the age of 3, there is a very good chance that vision training and wearing glasses can help the child to recover and improve the vision in the poor eye. However, if not detected early enough, it can cause the vision to remain poor and results in the child becoming legally blind in one eye. 

Approximately 80% of learning is done through vision. This is why it is very important that children have their eyes checked once a year especially before they begin school. Good vision is also essential for developing gross and fine motor skills, as well as developing normal eye-hand coordination.

During an eye exam, your optometrist will check your child for the following:

  • General vision in both eyes,
  • Eye muscle testing,
  • Eye coordination testing,
  • A general health assessment of the front and back of the eye.

All children 19 and under are covered by OHIP to have their vision checked once a year by an optometrist in Ontario. Don't hesitate to book an eye checkup with your local optometrist today.


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