The following is sponsored by Doctors of Optometry.
Picture this: It's 1984 and I'm sitting at my desk at the very back of the classroom. The teacher has just asked the class to copy what she had written on the board into our writing books. For some reason, I cannot clearly distinguish the words. The letters appear to be blurry. I squint. I lean forward. It takes me longer than most but I manage to complete the simple task. A few days later, my teacher suggests that I get my eyes checked, that perhaps I needed glasses. Me? Glasses? Those are for old people, I thought. I was only six.
If it hadn't been for my Grade 1 teacher, I don't think I would have thought anything was wrong with my vision. I simply attributed it to the fact that I was sitting far away from the blackboard. Even while playing in the school yard looking for my friends, it was difficult to identify them from far away but surely it was due to the distance between us. The closer we were to each other, the clearer their facial features became. At home, it was a matter of plopping myself directly in front of the television set and I wouldn't have any problems, other than getting yelled at for sitting too closely. It wasn't until I tried on my first tiny pair of glasses that I was able see the world in a whole new way.
This month is Children’s Vision Month and, along with Doctors of Optometry, I would like to stress the importance of taking your school-aged children between ages of 3-12 to a Doctor of Optometry to assess their vision and overall eye health. Our paediatrician was very pro-active in this regard and recommended a Doctor of Optometry once my daughter had turned three. Since, as a mom, I cannot determine 100% if my children have healthy eyes, I felt relieved knowing that, based on their eye exam, my children's eyes were healthy. I experienced first hand how vision problems can affect one's learning and would like to avoid similar struggles where my kids are concerned.
The fact is 1 in 4 school-age children has a vision problem. This is a staggering statistic, especially when coupled with the fact that 80% of learning is based on vision. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that vision problems can prevent children from reaching their full potential. Furthermore, many children are unaware that they may be experiencing vision difficulties because they may simply assume everyone sees the way they do. A comprehensive eye exam provides the full assurance of vision and eye health, unlike a simple eye-chart test or a school vision screening.
During Children’s Vision Month, it is important to recall the following recommendation:
Doctors of Optometry recommend infants have their first eye examination between six and nine months of age. Children should have at least one eye exam between the ages of two and five, and yearly after starting school to ensure optimal vision and development.
As a teacher of over 200 students, I have witnessed on many occasions the difficulties experienced by students with vision problems. I can empathize with them and make accommodations for them but at the end of the day, I am not a Doctor of Optometry. Let’s do our children a favour and get their eyes examined regularly. Trust me. It could make a world of difference.
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