Infant Eye Health FAQ

Q.    When should I bring my child for the first eye examination? 

A.    The Canadian Association of Optometrist produced a poster which is in our Mississauga office. 

It says: "It's never too early for your child's first eye examination." 

Generally, we would like to do the first pediatric eye examination before age three, or at the latest before your child enters kindergarten, and then yearly after that if they have no vision problems. If the child has vision problems it should be at least once a year or as recommended. The first eye examination is important to rule out or detect congenital eye problems (from birth), and it also establishes a "baseline" reference of visual status to help monitor vision changes as the child develops. 

Q.    Is my child's eye exam covered by OHIP? 

A.    Yes, the Ministry of Health recommends annual eye examinations for all children and teenagers. Anyone age 19 years and under are allowed to have one eye examination per year covered by their Ontario Health Card. If the optometrist recommends additional eye examinations more frequently than once a year due to specific problems, those extra visits will be covered by OHIP as well. 

Q.    How do you test my child's eyes before they are able to read letters on an eyechart? 

A.    Most of the tests in a pediatric eye examination are objective tests that do not require the child's responses. These can be done with a computerized autorefracter or with handheld instruments that shine lights in the eyes to detect vision or eye health problems. We may also use eye charts that are specifically designed for children - these use pictures or symbols to measure visual acuity. I believe that it is important to test children's' eyes in a way that is fun and painless for the child. This helps me to do a more thorough examination, and it also makes the child feel more comfortable seeing me or other doctors in the future. 

Q.    What is the likelihood that my child has a vision problem? 

A.    Studies show that 10% of all preschoolers and 25% of students in kindergarten through 6th grade have vision deficiencies. Many of them are undetected because only a small percentage of parents take their children to the optometrist for routine comprehensive eye exams. Since 80% of all learning during a child's early school years is obtained through vision, maintaining regular eye checkups is very important. 

Q.    Is poor vision related to poor school performance? 

A.    Yes, that correlation has been shown in several different studies. An undetected vision problem can often have a profound negative effect on a child's educational performance. The good news is that when vision problems are detected and treated, educational performance usually increases significantly.