(CNW) A recent survey conducted on behalf of the Canadian Association of Optometrists found that parents rank child eye health as one of their lowest health priorities, with only 25 percent choosing it as one of their top three concerns.
“It is particularly concerning because eye health is such an important part of a child’s overall health and development,” says Dr. Barry Thienes, president of the Canadian Association of Optometrists.
The survey revealed that more than three-quarters of Canadian parents are unaware that vision problems can cause speech difficulties, nearly two-thirds are unaware that they can lead to developmental delays, and almost half of parents do not realize that a vision problem may be the cause of short attention spans in children.
“Eighty per cent of a child’s learning is based on vision,” says Thienes. “Undetected and untreated vision problems often cause reading difficulties, and can elicit some of the very same signs and symptoms that are commonly attributed to issues such as ADHD, dyslexia, and speech problems.”
The National Coalition for Vision Health estimates that one in four school-age children has a vision problem yet fewer than 14 percent of children under the age of six have had a comprehensive eye exam. 2
Many children participate in vision screening or sight test programs at school, which some parents misconstrue as a comprehensive eye exam.
“These tests are limited and cannot be used to diagnose a vision or eye health problem,” says Thienes. “Studies have shown that vision screening tests have high error rates, with 43 percent of children able to pass who actually have a problem.”
Eye exams performed by optometrists are not only important for charting a child’s eye health and ensuring they have the visual skills necessary for learning and development. They are also key to overall health maintenance.
The Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends infants have their first eye examination between six and nine months of age, another between ages two and five, and annually thereafter to ensure optimal vision and development.
About Doctors of Optometry
Doctors of optometry are health care specialists trained to diagnose, treat, and help prevent diseases and disorders affecting the eyes, and also assist in identifying general health conditions that are often first detected through an eye exam. Doctor of optometry-recommended treatments for patients can include eyeglasses, contact lenses, special low vision aids, eye coordination exercises, drug therapies, or referral to appropriate specialists for advanced medical, surgical, or laser treatments.
For more information or to find a doctor of optometry, visit opto.ca