Back to school time means haircut appointments, dental visits, and a reminder to get eyes checked too.
Dr.Tom Wilk, Owner/Optometrist Mountain View Optometry says with 80% of learning being visual if there is an undetected problem it can have a huge impact on their school performance, perceptual learning, and behavioral development.
Wilk suggests the first time a child should be seen by an eye care professional is before a year old; with Alberta Health Services covering the financial cost for those under 18, the only cost to families is time for the appointment.
Dr.Wilk shares having eyes tested is important as many vision problems can go undetected.
"Kids see the way they see, they don't all have the neural development to cover one eye and check with each eye separately and report to parents that one eye is blurry, or they may be afraid of diagnosis, or they may be actually completely unaware that the way they see is abnormal."
It is more common than you think, shares Wilk, that parents are surprised that their child has a vision issue at all.
"It is not always easy to tell, not all symptoms are present, a child will not always report symptoms accurately"
Some symptoms that a child with a vsion problem may experience is: squinting, headaches, focus issues, covering one eye, inattention while reading, complaining of eye strain, blurred or double vision.
For children in kindergarten there is a partnership program between the Alberta Government and the Alberta Association of Optometrists called 'I See, I Learn'. The program not only highlights the importance of early intervention but removes any financial barriers as well.
"It provides one pair of free glasses for kindergarten aged children and that goes for everyone in the Province of Alberta."
Wilk says it is estimated that one in four kids will have a diagnosable vision problem and currently in Alberta only 14% of kids under 6 receive professional eye care.
"There's a lot of kids that are getting missed and not taking advantage of the great health care system we have for preventable eye care in this Province and a lot of it is education, so vision problems are being missed."