Far too many patients allow finances to keep them from scheduling regular appointments with their optometrist. While I understand that costs can be a barrier, I’m of the opinion that ensuring the health and longevity of your eyes is well worth the cost of an eye exam.
This sentiment goes double for children who rely on their vision for everything from learning to walk and talk to keeping up with peers in the classroom. In fact, an estimated 80% of classroom learning is visual. Eyesight is absolutely crucial for kids, which is why OHIP covers annual eye exams and minor assessments for everyone under the age of 19.
Of course, that’s only part of the cost. If your child needs glasses, you could still end up paying several hundred dollars, right? Well, not necessarily. Thanks to a government-funded program called Eye See… Eye Learn, some kids are entitled to a free pair of glasses.
As a parent, I feel it’s important that we understand all of the options available to our kids so we can make the right decisions for their health. That’s why I’ve written this blog; to help you understand Eye See… Eye Learn and how it works so your kids can get everything they’re entitled to.
How Does Eye See… Eye Learn Work?
While OHIP-covered children’s eye exams are available everywhere, only some practices participate in Eye See… Eye Learn.
Eligible children will have their eyes examined by a participating optometrist during their first year of kindergarten, ideally before they start school. If the participating optometrist determines that your child needs glasses, they will supply a free pair of glasses to satisfy your child’s visual needs. Your child’s free glasses are donated courtesy of Plastic Plus and Modern Optical Canada. Featuring stylish frames and durable polycarbonate lenses, the glasses available through Eye See… Eye Learn are worth approximately $250.
Is My Child Eligible for Eye See… Eye Learn?
Eye See… Eye Learn is specifically designed to ensure children have access to clear vision before they begin 14 years of classroom learning. As a result, candidacy is limited to children of a specific age range. For example, all OHIP-covered children born in 2015 and planning to attend junior kindergarten in September 2019 are eligible for Eye See… Eye Learn between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020.
How Do I Take Advantage of ESEL?
All you need to do to take advantage of the Eye See… Eye Learn program is to find a participating optometrist in your area. The Ontario Association of Optometrists has a tool to help you do that. Schedule an eye exam for your child with the participating optometrist. If your child needs a prescription, assuming your child is eligible for the program, your optometrist will have glasses made for your child at no cost to you.
How Often Do Kids Need Eye Exams?
I cannot stress the importance of visual health in children enough. Even though some schools perform vision screenings, this level of testing is not enough to catch vision problems beyond nearsightedness. Kids need full medical eye exams from an optometrist to fully evaluate the strength of their vision and health of their eyes.
Once your child is old enough for kindergarten, they should have their eyes professionally examined once a year until they reach adulthood. But even before school age, your children still need regular eye exams. According to the Canadian Association of Optometrists, your child should have their first eye exam between 6 months and 9 months of age. Then, your child should have at least one eye exam between age 3 and age 5, and yearly after that.
Protect Your Child’s Vision
Whether you choose to go through the Eye See… Eye Learn program, employer health insurance, or pay out of pocket for glasses is, of course, entirely up to you. What’s most important is that you prioritize your child’s eye health. By recognizing and respecting the importance of your child’s vision, you are making sure they have skills that are crucial to their future success.