Importance of child’s vision health stressed

Children’s vision is among the lowest health priorities for B.C. parents

With the prevalence of seasonal flus, the importance of dental care and other medical concerns, children’s vision is among the lowest health priorities in B.C.

As part of Children’s Vision Month this October, BC Doctors of Optometry is encouraging parents to prioritize their child’s eye health, as many are unaware that vision problems can cause learning and developmental delays.

A study conducted on behalf of the Canadian Association of Optometrists found that the majority of parents in B.C. do not realize the impact that vision problems can have on the long-term health of their children.

The study shows that 83 per cent of B.C. parents are unaware that vision problems can lead to developmental delays, and 57 per cent don’t know that vision problems may be the cause of a child’s short attention span.

“As children head back to school, and all throughout the year, we strongly encourage parents throughout B.C. to keep their child’s eye health a top priority,” said Dr. Amanda Farley, president of BC Doctors of Optometry. “We know that 80 per cent of a child’s learning is achieved through what they can see, so identifying a vision problem early is essential for a child to grow into their full potential.”

The study also found that parents in B.C. ranked vision health among one of the lowest priorities for their child’s overall health, with only 22 per cent choosing it as one of their top three concerns.

“As an optometrist and mother, these statistics are particularly concerning, because many common vision problems can imitate symptoms of other childhood development issues including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), dyslexia and speech impediments,” Farley said.

A comprehensive eye exam with a BC doctor of optometry is the best way to ensure vision health problems do not go undetected or untreated, such as nearsightedness, improper eye alignment, or reduced vision in one eye due to the eye and brain not working together properly, otherwise known as a lazy eye.

BC Doctors of Optometry recommends that children have their first eye exam between six and nine months of age, their second between the ages of two and five and every year after starting school, unless instructed otherwise by their optometrist.

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