Visual health is an important part of a child’s overall health and well-being. Proper vision is important for a child’s movement and coordination, independence, play and learning. If left untreated, vision problems may become serious and prevent a child from reaching their full potential.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health is partnering with our local Lions Clubs to offer school-based vision screening to senior kindergarten (SK) students according to the Child Visual Health and Vision Screening Protocol, 2018 of the Ontario Public Health Standards (2018).
What is vision screening?
Vision screening is a series of three short and simple tests that can identify some risk factors for certain vision disorders.
It is a free service that is offered in the school-setting to SK students on a yearly basis.
Vision screening does not replace the need for a full exam by an eye doctor on a yearly basis or whenever there is a concern. Children and youth (0 - 19 years old) are eligible for a free exam by an eye doctor every 12 months through OHIP (Ontario health card). To find a local optometrist, please visit findaneyedoctor.ca.
Why is vision screening important?
Young children may not know they have a vision problem because they assume everyone sees like they do. Vision screening is an effective and non-invasive way to identify children with potential vision problems and refer them to the eye doctor for a free comprehensive eye exam. It is important for vision problems to be caught and treated early so that children can see and learn to the best of their ability.
What vision screening tests are used?
The following three (3) vision screening tests are used:
- HOTV visual acuity chart (letter book) – this test measures sharpness of eyesight/clarity of vision.
- Randot Preschool Stereotest (3D picture book) – this test measures the ability to recognize depth.
- Autorefractor (automated camera) – this test automatically screens for some refractive errors such as near and farsightedness.
If my child wears glasses, do they need to be screened?
Children wearing glasses will still be screened using the HOTV visual acuity chart and the Randot Preschool Stereotest. They will leave their glasses on for these tests.
How will parents be notified that vision screening is being offered at their child’s school?
Parents and guardians of children in SK will receive a notification that the screening is taking place at their child’s school at least 10 business days in advance of the screening date. Parents and guardians are advised to contact Public Health’s Let’s Talk Parenting phone line at 1-800-265-7293 ext. 3616 line if they:
- Have questions about vision screening
- Need help with finding an eye doctor
- Wish to opt their child out of the Vision Screening program
What happens after a child has been screened?
Parents and guardians of all children screened will receive a Parent Notification Form that notes their child’s overall result (i.e. PASS or REFER) with recommended next steps.
Parents and guardians of children screened whose overall screening result is a REFER, will receive a Reminder Letter within 20 business days of the screening date.
What is a comprehensive eye exam?
A comprehensive eye exam is a full assessment of the eye and vision system. This service includes:
- Reviewing child’s health history and the family history of eye problems
- Checking visual acuity and 3D vision
- Checking eye alignment
- Checking eye focusing ability
- Checking eye health (i.e. allergies, infections)
- Identifying if the child is meeting visual developmental milestones
- Determination of need for eye glasses or other treatment (i.e. eye drops, vision therapy, a referral to a healthcare provider, etc.)
Vision screening cannot diagnose vision disorders, and it is NOT a replacement for a comprehensive eye exam by an eye doctor.
How often should an infant or child go to the eye doctor?
The Ontario Association of Optometrists recommends that all children have their first eye exam at 6 months old, again at 3 years old, and every year after that.
Children and youth (0-19 years old) are eligible for a free exam by an eye doctor every 12 months through OHIP (Ontario health card).
For more information on exams for infants and children, please visit the Ontario Association of Optometrists website.
We don’t currently have a family eye doctor. Can you help?
Please call Public Health’s Let’s Talk Parenting phone line at 1-800-265-7293 ext. 3616 for assistance with finding an eye doctor in your area.
I need assistance paying for the cost of prescription glasses for my child. What are my options?
Please call Public Health’s Let’s Talk Parenting phone line at 1-800-265-7293 ext. 3616 to discuss programs that assist families with the cost of prescription glasses for children.
Below are some programs and organizations that may assist with the cost of prescription eyeglasses.
|Eye See…Eye Learn||
The Eye See…Eye Learn® program encourages parents to book a comprehensive eye exam for their junior kindergarten child with a local, participating optometrist. The eye exam is covered by OHIP.
If a child needs glasses, they will receive a complimentary pair donated by Plastic Plus, Modern Optical Canada and the participating optometrist.
Find a participating optometrist near you and book your child’s Eye See…Eye Learn® eye exam. Participating doctors will have Eye See…Eye Learn doctor next to their name.
|Lions Club International||
The Lions Club may provide financial assistance for the cost of prescription eyeglasses.
Contact your local Lions Club organization for more information on assistance with prescription glasses expenses.
|Ontario Works||Families receiving assistance from Ontario Works can contact their local Ontario Works office for more information on assistance with vision care expenses for your children, including prescription eyeglasses.|
|Ontario Disability Support Program||Families receiving assistance Ontario Disability Support Program can contact their local Ontario Works office for more information on assistance with vision care expenses for your children, including prescription eyeglasses.|
|Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP)||The IFHP provides limited, temporary coverage of health-care benefits to resettled refugees, refugee claimants and certain other groups who are not eligible for provincial or territorial health insurance.|
|Non-Insured Health Benefits Program (for First Nations and Inuit)||
Non-insured health benefits for First Nations and Inuit.
The program provides eligible clients with coverage for benefits not available under other federal, provincial, territorial or private health insurance.
Vision care benefits are covered in accordance with program policies. These policies are set out in the NIHB Vision Care Benefit Policy Framework and Vision Care Benefit List. Benefits must be provided by an NIHB-recognized provider.
Ontario. Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Child Visual Health and Vision Screening Protocol, 2018. [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2019 August 28]. Available from: http://health.gov.on.ca/en/pro/programs/publichealth/oph_standards/docs/protocols_guidelines/Child_Visual_Health_and_Vision_Screening_Protocol_2018_en.pdf