Best starts in school start with an eye exam: Stephanie’s story

How well can your child see? It’s an important question, and one you should answer before the start of school.

StephanieFor Deborah Steacy, it was accidentally answered when she brought her then-three-year-old daughter Stephanie to her two older daughters’ eye exams.

“The optometrist said my two older girls were fine, and then asked if I wanted to have Stephanie’s eyes checked,” said Deborah. “I told him she couldn’t read but he said they can check her vision by asking her to identify images.”

Even that proved difficult for the preschooler. 

“When the optometrist asked her to identify an image, she would try to distract him and then quickly turn to me and ask me what the image was.”

Parents often assume their child will tell them if they are struggling with their vision. But children with vision issues simply don’t know that what they see can be improved, and adapt their behavior to compensate for the poor eyesight, making it harder for parents to identify. Stephanie refused to play on the family computer, opting instead for Barbies and Legos. 

It also takes its toll in school.

“I once watched Stephanie practically climb into her pre-school teacher’s lap to see the picture book being read to the class. The teacher thought she just wanted attention. I also noticed she still couldn’t print her own name, when her sisters had been able to by that age.”

Children are often mistaken as “slow learners,” when the simple answer is that they are struggling with their vision. Let this sink in: 60 per cent of children with literacy issues have an undiagnosed vision problem. Not only that, but children are often misdiagnosed with ADD or ADHD instead of a vision problem that can be identified and treated by an optometrist.

“All the signs were there, but it was hard to tell,” said Deborah.

For Stephanie though, it was a happy ending. Her optometrist prescribed her a pair of glasses, and, wearing them since, Stephanie is now a thriving university student.

Annual, comprehensive eye exams are the only way to know that your child has good vision and eye health. These exams are covered by OHIP for patients up to 19 years of age.

For children born in 2011, the Ontario Association of Optometrists’ Eye See… Eye Learn® program offers a comprehensive eye exam and, if needed, a pair of glasses provided by Nikon Lenswear® and OGI Eyewear, without cost to parents.

It’s as simple as this: best starts in school start with an eye exam.

Resources:

Find an optometrist near you.

Learn more about the Eye See…Eye Learn program.