Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit Barrie Office
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The central phone line is 705-721-7520 ext. 8533

Have you had your child’s eyes checked?

May 31, 2019
Good vision is important for children to develop to their full potential.

Good vision is important for children to develop to their full potential. A child who cannot see properly may struggle with learning, and may find sports and other physical and social activities difficult. If not identified early, some eye problems can permanently reduce a child’s vision. 

Young children may not know that they have a vision problem. They don’t complain because they assume that everyone sees the way that they do. For parents and caregivers, there are sometimes no obvious signs or symptoms to indicate that their child has a vision problem. 

This is why it’s important for children to have their eyes checked by an optometrist starting at a young age. The Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends that babies have their eyes checked by an optometrist between six to nine months – then again between ages two to five – and every year after starting school.  These visits are free with an OHIP card from birth until age 19. However, a current review shows that fewer than half of children in Simcoe Muskoka have ever received an eye exam from an optometrist by the time they have entered school. 

This spring, as part of a new requirement in the Ontario Public Health Standards, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit began screening senior kindergarten children in schools across Simcoe and Muskoka to help identify children who are at high risk or already experiencing vision problems. Approximately 2000 children will be screened this year. 

These simple screening tests don’t replace a comprehensive eye exam at the optometrist, but are a way to remind families that eye health and regular visits to the optometrist are an important part of preventive care. We also provide information about how to find an optometrist.

For more information about children’s vision, or if you need help finding an optometrist for your child or a program to help with the cost of children’s glasses, please visit our website at http://www.simcoemuskokahealth.org or call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520, weekdays between 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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Dr. Simon is Simcoe Muskoka’s Associate Medical Officer of Health.

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