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What are the quick tests?

  • Look at a letter chart.
  • Look through 3D glasses to check stereoscopic vision.
  • Look into three machines that shine a light into the eye for a few seconds, to check how well the eyes focus and work together.

The child will be out of class for 15 to 20 minutes. There are no known risks. The child will bring home a letter with the results. If your child ought to see an eye doctor, we shall offer you an appointment at school at no cost (even if your child is not covered by OHIP).

If your quick tests found nothing wrong with my child's eyes, does that mean everything is okay?

Probably but our quick tests do not check everything. To be certain you need to take your child to an optometrist for a complete eye exam. For children OHIP covers the cost of one optometric exam per year.

If you say my child needs an eye exam, does that mean something is wrong?

Not necessarily. The odds are probably around 50:50.

What does an eye exam entail?

The doctor has your child look into various machines and peers into the child's eyes with a light. Since it is hard to see inside a child's eye, the light is bright and the doctor uses eye drops to enlarge the pupil. None of this is painful, although the light and drops may be uncomfortable. The complete exam takes one to two hours, including time spent waiting for the drops to take effect. A parent or representative must be present.

Are the eye drops necessary? Are they dangerous?

They are necessary and they are not dangerous. Nobody enjoys them but they are essential and routine.

At this age children are nine times more likely to be farsighted than nearsighted. Because they can often overcome farsightedness by focusing hard, drops are needed to relax the eyes' focus. Without correction, farsighted children do more poorly on reading-readiness tests and are in danger of having an eye go crooked.

Note that we are using the protocol recommended by the Children's Vision Committee of the Ontario Association of Optometrists and by the Opthalmologist-in-Chief of Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children.

Is anyone at school told the results of your tests?

No, although obviously people will notice if your child starts wearing glasses.

Our family doctor sees nothing wrong with my child's eyes yet you do. Why?

Eye problems are rarely obvious in young children. Testing eyes properly requires specialized training and equipment.

Why does my child need glasses? Nobody else in my family has needed them.

For perfect vision every part of each eye must always grow at exactly the same rate. This does not always happen. Just as one foot commonly grows a little larger than the other, so different parts of the eye can grow differently.

Growth is affected by genes and the environment. The key environmental factor affecting the eye's growth and need for glasses seems to be the amount of sunlight experienced while growing up.

Why not give my child a few years to see if he or she grows out of the problem?

Because, depending upon the problem, either his schoolwork may never recover or she may lose the use of an eye.

Can't glasses weaken the eyes? Aren't exercises better?

Glasses do not weaken eyes, they strengthen vision. Some eye problems involve weaknesses that exercises can fix, but those are muscular or neurological weaknesses, and most people need glasses because the eye is shaped imperfectly. No form of exercise can change this.

You sent me a note saying that my child ought to see an eye doctor and offering me an appointment with one at school. If I refuse the eye exam, will this affect his or her grades?

It may unless you take the child to an optometrist yourself. We do not share any information with the school but if a child cannot see a book or the blackboard easily, schoolwork and grades are bound to suffer.

Can I take my child to an eye doctor of my own choosing?

Of course. OHIP will pay for one optometric exam per year for children.

My child has already seen an optometrist. Is another exam really necessary?

Not if your child was examined within the last year.

My child is not in a school you are working with. How can I have his or her eyes checked?

Go to any optometrist. OHIP will pay for one eye exam per year until a child is 18. Many optometrists can also provide free glasses for four-year-olds. To find one of those click here and search for an optometrist near you who is identified by this symbol: Symbol for Eye See Eye Learn optometrists

Overview    Parents    Locations     Screeners    Optometrists    Coordinators

Central coordinator: Sally Stafford
Telephones: (1) 844 834 0936 (toll-free)
(1) 647 478 9834 (Toronto)