Back To School Shopping: Why A Visit To The Optometrist Should Top Your List

Kayla Young September 18, 2019
Diverse private school classmates are excited as foam overflows from beaker during chemistry experiment.

It’s hard to believe that back-to-school season is just around the corner, but with September sneaking up quickly, visions of pencils, notebooks, and school supply lists might already be dancing in your head. While preparing for the upcoming school year is a busy, exciting time, one of the most important items to take care of might not even be on your list.

In order to set your kiddo up for the most successful year possible, it’s essential to make sure they can see the board clearly. There are plenty of reasons to include booking a comprehensive eye exam for all the kids in your family as one of your preparations for the fall.

Here’s some info to help guide you through it.

At What Age Should You Book an Eye Exam for Your Kids?

Did you know that the Alberta Association of Optometrists recommends that a child’s first eye exam should be between six and nine months, their second visit should be between the ages of two and five, and school-age children should have a checkup once per year after that? Because proper vision is such an important factor in a child’s success at school, and one in four students has a vision problem (many of which have no symptoms), Alberta Health has helped to make regular vision checks accessible for kids up to age 19 by covering the cost.

Additionally, through the Eye See…Eye Learn program, any kindergarten-aged children requiring glasses prescribed by an optometrist are eligible for a free pair!

I have to admit, I was a little bit apprehensive about booking my son’s first eye exam as an infant. I was concerned about how long the appointment would take, whether he’d be able to sit still, and was nervous that it would be a scary experience for him. However, I quickly realized that my worries had been for nothing, as the appointment was over within twenty minutes, and there was no poking, prodding, or needles to be worried about. The optometrist was extremely knowledgeable about working with kids, and the non-invasive exam not only helped to make sure that my son was able to see properly, but also examined the structures in his eyes to ensure that everything was healthy.

Knowing that my son’s eye exams will be this short and painless in all of his appointments as he gets older definitely made me more confident in booking them in the future.

School Screenings Are Great—But Not a Replacement for an Eye Exam

Although some schools do provide vision screening for kids, it’s important to recognize that these tests should not take the place of a comprehensive eye exam performed by an optometrist.

It seems that students are very determined to ace all of their tests; research has shown that 43% of kiddos with vision or eye health problems were actually able to pass basic vision tests. In addition, children with vision problems often don’t complain about their eyesight because they assume that what they’re seeing is “normal”.

As a teacher, I’ll never forget hearing one of my students exclaim, “That’s what trees are supposed to look like?! I thought they were just green blobs!” after receiving their first pair of glasses. Allowing an optometrist to examine the actual structure of your child’s eyes in addition to providing a vision test is important as it helps to identify eye health concerns that children and parents may not have known existed.

Where to Find One Near You

Booking an eye appointment for your kids isn’t just important – it’s also super easy. If you don’t have an optometrist already, simply visit the Alberta Association of Optometrists to search for clinics near you. You can even narrow your search results to find clinics with optometrists who speak specific languages, offer the Eye See…Eye Learn program, and more. Once you’ve found an office that meets your criteria, give them a call to book your kids’ appointments to make sure the 2019/2020 school year is one they’ll experience with 20/20 vision.

This post is brought to you by the Alberta Association of Optometrists but the opinions are our own.

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