One in four children suffers from a vision problem that can negatively affect school performance

March Break is an ideal time to see an optometrist

MONTREAL, Feb. 19, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - Vision plays a vital role in a child's development, whether in general learning or in success at school. Although this fact may seem obvious, two out of three children begin school without having had their vision or eye health examined, despite the fact that the cost of an exam for children under 18 years is covered by RAMQ.

Not surprisingly, nearly 25% of school-age children today suffer from vision problems, which can often go unnoticed by parents and teachers. "This is partly due to the fact that a child with a vision problem will not express it clearly," said Dr. Steven Carrier, optometrist and president of the Association des optométristes du Québec. "Instead, he or she may complain of headaches, itchy eyes or tiredness, or may have attention problems in the classroom."

In the long term, a vision disorder in a child can lead to more serious consequences, with motor skills, for example, in addition to having a negative impact on performance at school. As proof, one in six school-age children who has been diagnosed with learning problems actually has a vision disorder that can be corrected. Also, while the most common disorders, such as farsightedness, astigmatism and nearsightedness are relatively well-known, there are other eye conditions, such as amblyopia (lazy eye) and strabismus (crossed eyes), which can cause vision loss if not detected and corrected before the child reaches the age of ten.

 "The good news is that an optometrist can detect and fix most of these problems, with a comprehensive evaluation that is free and tailored specifically to children. For example, for the youngest patients, the eye health exam is in the form of a game. We use drawings, toys and lights to detect whether a child has a problem. So contrary to what you might think, the child does not even need to know how to read. With its playful side, the exam is a creative and fun activity that you can do with your child and easily include in the March Break vacation," Dr. Carrier added.

Because this could make all the difference in a child's life, the Association des optométristes du Québec recommends that a complete eye health exam be conducted every year, until adulthood. This exam can even become part of a family's routine, on the same level as consulting a doctor or a dentist.

About optometrists

The optometrist is a healthcare professional of the first order. Holding a doctorate earned over five years in university, they are qualified to act as a point of entry for all needs regarding vision, eye health, and the provision of eyeglasses. Their primary roles are the evaluation of a patient's vision and eye health, and the prescribing and administering of medications related to the eye exam as well as to the treatment of certain ocular pathologies. Optometrists also prescribe necessary ophthalmic lenses, in the form of contact lenses or eyeglasses, and for providing treatment as part of visual rehabilitation.

The optometrist provides patients with guidance in the prevention of vision problems and the maintaining of good eye health, and can direct a patient towards other health professionals if it is required. To find an optometrist near you, please visit


SOURCE Association des optométristes du Québec

For further information: Maryse Nolin, Executive Director, Association des optométristes du Québec, 514-288-6272,

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Association des optométristes du Québec

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