Wednesday, 26 October 2011 15:49

Alberta optometrists encourage parents to have youngsters’ vision tested early

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By Susan Quinlan — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Eye See Eye Learn Program, operated by the Alberta Association of Optometrists (AAO) and backed by several industry sponsors, encourages the examination of vision in kindergarten-age children and provides a free pair of eyeglasses to those who require prescription lenses.

The children’s initiative is designed to ensure eye health and/or vision problems are not a factor preventing them from reaching their learning potential.

Following a 2003 pilot project, the AOO concluded increased awareness of the importance of eye health prompted a 30 per cent increase in eye exams for youngsters.

Of those examined, the AOO found on average, six per cent needed glasses while another eight per cent were found to have difficulty focusing their eyes. 

Since that pilot project, all public and separate school divisions in Alberta have endorsed the Eye See Eye Learn program. 

Each fall about 50,000 parent information packages are sent home with kindergarten children, in the hope parents or guardians will have their children participate.

Karen Hollingsworth, Eye Learn Program Co-ordinator, said the cost of the eye exam is paid for by parents who as well take their children to the family’s optometrist, as opposed to an eye doctor coming onsite at the school.

Hollingsworth said the packages sent home with children contain information about the importance of eye health to learning; a form to be completed by the family’s optometrist; a list of commonly asked questions regarding eye health and vision, and information about the free eyeglass program.

Funded by several industries and Alberta Education in 2010, more than 1,200 free pairs of eyeglasses were distributed.

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