With school starting soon, we have been focusing on getting back-to-school gear ready. This is also a good time to take children over 6-months of age for a yearly eye examination that is covered by OHIP. Success at school depends on how much children can comfortably see the blackboard and their books without squinting or rubbing their eyes. For some children, eyeglasses can mean the difference between thriving at school and falling behind.
The recent Loblaw Kids Eye Health Survey revealed that 35 per cent of parents do not plan to have their child's eyes tested before school starts, as almost one-in-three parents think their child "sees fine". Even if we feel our child has no symptoms or diagnosed vision problems, we should still get their eyes tested annually. The Optical team at Real Canadian Superstore has been raising awareness about the importance of adding an eye exam to our back-to-school checklist by educating parents about the importance of eye health.
Vision changes can occur without parents or children even noticing. Some signs to watch out for to identify if your child needs an eye exam include:
- Having difficulty reading
- Sitting close to the TV or holding a book too close
- Frequent eye rubbing
- Sensitivity to light or excessive tearing
- Closing one eye to read or watch TV
- Avoiding using a computer because it hurts their eyes
- Having trouble seeing the chalk board
- A sudden drop in grades
Eye protection is really important, especially when playing certain high-risk sports. Many children suffer sports-related eye injuries every year and many of these injuries are preventable. All children should be wearing appropriate, protective eyewear when playing sports; regular prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses aren't enough.
- Ensure your child has well-fitted, sport-specific protective eyewear
- Depending on the sport, consider sunglasses to protect the athlete's eyes from UV rays, reduce glares, and even shield them from wind and rain
Signs of eye injuries include:
- Difficulty seeing
- Double vision
- Severe eyelid swelling
- Pain when looking up and/or down
- Redness in the white part of the eye
- Pupil irregularity
In the case of an eye injury occurring, regardless of the severity, you need to go to the emergency room or see an ophthalmologist immediately. Even minor injuries can cause significant damage and delaying medical attention can result in permanent vision loss or blindness. Eye protection isn't limited to athletes; even spectators need to protect their eyes from harmful UV rays when cheering on their team.
Going for an eye examination can detect other illnesses and conditions that can be addressed and corrected such as:
- Cross eye or lazy eye
- Vitamin A Deficiency
- High Blood Pressure
- Retinal Diseases
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Some children know that they need to wear glasses to see better, however a lot of the time they do not like to wear them. Here are some tips that will encourage your child to wear glasses:
- Involve children in picking their glasses
- Ensure proper fit so the glasses are comfortable
- Depending on your child’s age, highlight their favourite characters who wear glasses (e.g. Minions, Harry Potter)
- Make it part of the morning routine to help form the habit
- Instill ownership and responsibility in them for keeping their glasses clean and safe
- Make a point of praising them when they wear their glasses on their own, without being reminded or told to do so
Optical Departments are conveniently located at select local Loblaw grocery stores, making it easy to get our child's eyes checked. They offer the Kids See Free program that provides children from the ages 4-10 years old with any frame valued up to $49 and kids safe polycarbonate lenses for free. If parents wish to upgrade the frame or add any coatings to the lenses, they are responsible for paying the difference. In Ontario this program is available at Real Canadian Superstore, Loblaws, Zehrs, Your Independent Grocer, and Fortinos stores with optical departments.
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