According to statistics, more than one in four Ontario children have vision problems, yet only one in 10 see an optometrist before age four.
This summer, Eye See…Eye Learn is hoping to change that. The not-for-profit program will launch a campaign on July 1 to detect, diagnose and treat children with vision problems by providing free eye exams and glasses to children entering Junior Kindergarten in Toronto this fall.
The program has been successful in other parts of the province, says Dr. Farooq Khan, President, Ontario Association of Optometrists. It’s ideal that vision problems are detected as early as possible. “While children rarely complain about vision problems, or are even aware of them, statistics show there is a strong correlation between education and eyes. Of the nearly 25 percent of children have a vision problem, many of which are thought to have a learning disability. The Eye See…Eye Learn program will reduce these mislabeled children and ensure that they have the best chance to succeed in school.”
Through Eye See…Eye Learn, children are eligible for one free pair of glasses with their annual OHIP eye exam, if prescribed, through participating optometrists. (Every child in Ontario who has a valid Ontario Health Card is entitled to an annual OHIP-insured eye exam by a Doctor of Optometry, up until age 19.)
“Children’s vision became a passion of mine early on, having undergone surgery at the age of two for a crossed eye,” says Dr. Brian Paul, Chair of Eye See…Eye Learn and the Ontario Association of Optometrists. “Vision limitations can be difficult to diagnose in children, making it imperative that they receive a comprehensive exam by a Doctor of Optometry. I experienced how difficult it was to learn how to read with vision problems first-hand and am a testament to the importance of early detection and correction – both offered by Eye See…Eye Learn.”
Eye See…Eye Learn is funded in part by the Government of Ontario and administered by the Ontario Association of Optometrists, in conjunction with over 40 school boards, community and industry partners. Further information is available at EyeSeeEyeLearn.ca.
For more on the connection between vision and learning disabilities, read parentscanada.com/preschool/a-visual-health-problem-may-make-it-hard-to-read