Backpack, new shoes and an eye exam

Ontario Optometrists want parents to add eye exams to their back to school list

MISSISSAUGA, ON, Aug. 18 /CNW/ - As parents start turning their thoughts to getting their children ready for school, the Ontario Association of Optometrists wants parents to also consider adding an eye exam as part of their annual back-to- school preparations.

In the school year ending in 2009, only 25 percent of children between the ages of five and nine years of age in Ontario were examined by an optometrist; this number increases slightly to 30 per cent for the ten and 14 age group. These statistics are particularly troubling when you consider that as much as 80 per cent of learning is done through vision. Annual exams are covered by OHIP for children up to 19 yeas of age, says the OAO.

"These figures are of significant concern to us because many children are heading off to school unable to see well and their parents may not know they have a problem," says Dr. John Mastronardi, President of the Ontario Association of Optometrists. "Good vision is an important part of learning at every grade and children that cannot see well may struggle in school and extracurricular activities."

"Don't assume your child can see well," warns Oakville parent, Jennifer Hartman. "I thought my child could see just fine. She never complained and was doing well in school. But I recently had the shock of my life when I was told my child was legally blind in one eye. I was never told to have her eyes thoroughly examined or else I would have had her checked; I just didn't know."

"Parents should not wait for their children to complain about their vision. It is very important for children to be checked early before conditions such as lazy eye or turned eye become a lifelong condition," says Dr. Mastronardi. "Children don't often know what normal vision is supposed to look like. They assume that everyone sees the way they do. The earlier vision disorders are treated, the greater the chance there is for success."

In response to the lack of awareness about children's eye exams, the OAO will be launching pilot programs called Eye See...Eye Learn this fall in Dufferin-Peel, Halton, Hamilton, and Windsor-Essex in conjunction with local school boards. The program offers junior kindergarten students comprehensive eye exams and a free pair of glasses, if the child requires a pair. Parents in these regions can visit for more information on how to participate.

The OAO recommends that children have their first comprehensive eye examination by an optometrist at six month's of age, then before starting school, and every one to two years after as recommended by the optometrist.

To learn more about children's eye examinations, contact the Ontario Association of Optometrists by either visiting their web at site at or contact their office for a member optometrist near you at 1-800-540-3837 or 905-826-3522.

The Ontario Association of Optometrists is a voluntary professional organization representing more than 1,350 registered optometrists in Ontario. Optometrists are professionally educated and clinically trained to provide front line vision care. They provide regular eye care for patients of all ages to optimize people's vision and to prevent vision loss through early detection of eye disease.

The Eye See...Eye Learn program provides OHIP-insured eye exams and, if required, a free pair of eyeglasses for junior kindergarten children in the participating regions. For more information on Eye See...Eye Learn, visit

Video and photos are available upon request.

SOURCE Ontario Association of Optometrists

For further information: For further information: or to arrange an interview, please contact: Melissa Secord, Assistant Executive Director, 905-826-3522 x243, Email:

Organization Profile

Ontario Association of Optometrists

More on this organization

Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

CNW Membership

Fill out a CNW membership form or contact us at 1 (877) 269-7890

Learn about CNW services

Request more information about CNW products and services or call us at 1 (877) 269-7890