After buying school supplies, uniforms and getting that snazzy back-to-school haircut, we are finally getting used to the routine of a new school year. As you are making sure nothing was forgotten, it can benefit you and your family to make eye exams a part of your fall to-do list. Emphasizing the importance of pediatric eye exams, Vice-President of the B.C. Doctors of Optometry and FYidoctors Granville clinic’s very own optometrist, Dr. Errin Bligh shares her insight into why vision tests are needed-especially at a young age. Listing the following five persuasive reasons for families to incorporate examinations into their annual routine, Dr. Bligh shares her expertise on how essential it is to find time to visit an optometrist.
Here we share Dr. Bligh’s piece from The Province.
1. Seeing is Behaving
Poor vision can have lasting effects on a child’s intellectual and emotional development and has been shown to compound existing behavioural problems. This news is more troubling when you consider that 25 per cent of schoolchildren experience issues with their vision.
As a result, there are certain behaviours that children with vision issues exhibit when engaging with schoolwork. These include avoiding reading and other near visual work as much as possible, as well as experiencing discomfort, fatigue and short attention spans.
Even children who attempt to complete their schoolwork will do so with a lowered comprehension level and efficiency if they have problems with their vision or other ocular issues.
2. Value Beyond the Line of Sight
A sight test does not replace an eye exam from your optometrist. Some parents prefer visual screenings or sight tests offered by their child’s school instead of comprehensive eye exams but experts argue that the former fail to detect more than 40 per cent of eye problems that are identified by a comprehensive eye exam.
Visual screenings and sight tests are not designed to assess the entire visual system, leading to many health issues potentially being overlooked. Comprehensive eye exams, conducted by optometrists, carefully examine the eye’s structural development.
Optometrists routinely evaluate the health of all the ocular tissues, including looking at the blood vessels for signs of damage from diabetes, high blood pressure or other conditions. A comprehensive eye exam can also detect serious diseases like retinoblastoma, which accounts for three per cent of all cancers in children under the age of 15.
Because eyes provide clues about the status of our overall health, the value of a comprehensive eye exam isn’t limited to vision.
3. Peace of Mind
Most parents want to give their kids a good start in school and do whatever they can to set them up for success. Poor vision can have lasting effects on a child’s intellectual and emotional development and can lead to difficulty at school.
Vision skills are identified by experts as being necessary for academic success. Notably, skills such as visual acuity, eye co-ordination and visual perception are important for reading, writing and following along during classroom lessons.
Considering that 80 per cent of learning is vision-based and that most classroom lessons before the age of 13 are visually presented, comprehensive eye exams are critical for making sure that your child is visually capable of learning.
4. Technological Advancements
Recent technological improvements allow eye doctors to more accurately assess the health of the eye during a comprehensive eye exam.
Many optometrists have imaging technology that allows for more accurate documentation of the ocular tissues over time, allowing changes to be detected sooner. Some clinics use advanced techniques to capture cross-sectional imaging of the most sensitive tissues. Technology has also advanced the treatments available, from newer designs and coatings in eyeglass lenses to enhance comfort to improved therapeutic or medical interventions for eye diseases and disorders.
5. Covered by MSP
Beyond kindergarten, MSP coverage for a routine, annual eye exam is available for children and teens under the age of 19. Any balance not covered by MSP will be communicated in advance — for example, when there is additional testing or imaging performed during the examination.
Implemented in 2014 by the B.C. Doctors of Optometry, the Eye See…Eye Learn ® (ESEL) program offers comprehensive eye exams, fully covered by MSP with no additional costs to the family, for all kindergarten students in participating school districts across the province, with free prescription eyeglasses if required. Currently, 20 school districts are participating in the program.
For preschoolers, the B.C. Doctors of Optometry’s a-b-See™ vision program provides comprehensive eye exams for children under the age of five and aims to educate parents and teachers about the importance of children’s eye health.
Coverage for children’s eye exams isn’t limited to British Columbia. If you reside in a different Canadian province, access our Government Eye Exam Coverage blog to learn more.
Understanding Dr. Bligh’s vital, but also convincing reasons to prioritize your child’s comprehensive eye exams and screenings can potentially give you and your family the gift of prevention and early treatment-when deemed necessary. Following the guidance of an educated and well-informed FYidoctors optometrist like Dr. Bligh is useful when you are searching for an expert opinion. Depending on medical professionals that offer thorough service, as well as fact-based advice is a resource you can count on when visiting one of our clinics across Canada. After all, the health of your family is always at the forefront of your mind and at the top of your to-do list.
The Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends that children as young as six months have an eye exam at least once a year to ensure their eyes are healthy and developing normally, and annual comprehensive eye examinations for school-aged children. Also, remember to visit your optometrist immediately if you recognize any warning signs that there may be a problem with your child’s vision.
To book an eye exam for you and your child, find an FYidoctors location near you.