Pediatric Eye Care: Understanding The Link Between Vision And Learning Difficulties

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Pediatric Eye Care: Understanding The Link Between Vision And Learning Difficulties

We cannot underestimate the importance of childrens eye exams to protect your child’s health and vision. Vision is an essential component of a child's development and academic success. Vision problems in children can lead to difficulties with reading, writing, and other learning tasks. It is important to understand the link between vision problems and learning difficulties so that parents and teachers can recognize and address these issues early on. Research has shown that up to 25% of school-aged children have some type of vision problem that can affect their learning. Vision problems can take many forms, including nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and lazy eye. In some cases, children may also have eye coordination problems that can make it difficult to focus on written material or track objects across a page.

Are you concerned about the cost of children’s eye exams?
All eye exams for children under 18 are covered by the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan.

Children’s Eye Exams  For Vision

When children have undiagnosed or uncorrected vision problems, they may experience a range of learning difficulties. For example, they may struggle with reading fluency, comprehension, and accuracy. They may also have difficulty with handwriting, spelling, and math calculations. These difficulties can lead to frustration, anxiety, and poor self-esteem, which can further impact their learning and social-emotional well-being.

The link between vision problems and learning difficulties is particularly relevant in early childhood, as children are still developing the foundational skills necessary for academic success. When vision problems go undiagnosed in early childhood, children may struggle to keep up with their peers academically and may develop negative attitudes toward learning.

Fortunately, many vision problems in children can be easily diagnosed and corrected with a comprehensive eye exam. Parents and teachers should be aware of the signs of potential vision problems in children, including:

  • Squinting or tilting the head to see clearly
  • Holding books or other reading material very close to the face
  • Difficulty recognizing letters or words
  • Difficulty focusing or maintaining attention
  • Rubbing the eyes or complaining of headaches or eye strain

If any of these signs are present, a comprehensive eye exam should be scheduled with an eye care professional. The Canadian Association of Optometrists recommend infants have their first eye examination between six and nine months of age. Children should have at least one eye exam between the ages of two and five, and yearly after starting school to ensure optimal vision and development.

If a child is diagnosed with a vision problem, there are several treatment options available depending on the type and severity of the problem. In many cases, eyeglasses or contact lenses can correct refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. Vision therapy, a type of physical therapy for the eyes, can be effective for certain types of eye coordination problems. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to correct a more severe vision problem.

In addition to regular eye exams and appropriate treatment for vision problems, there are several strategies that parents and teachers can use to support children with vision problems in the classroom. These strategies include:

  • Providing extra time for reading and writing tasks
  • Using large print materials or electronic devices with adjustable font sizes
  • Encouraging the use of coloured overlays or tinted glasses to reduce visual stress
  • Providing preferential seating close to the front of the classroom or near the board
  • Using technology such as text-to-speech software or audiobooks to support reading comprehension
  • Collaborating with your optometrist and other specialists as needed to provide comprehensive support for the child's learning needs

Improved Learning Outcomes With Pediatric Eye Care

The link between vision problems and learning difficulties is significant and should not be overlooked. Regular children eye exams and appropriate treatment for vision problems are essential for supporting children's academic success and overall well-being. By recognizing the signs of potential vision problems and implementing strategies to support children with vision problems in the classroom, parents and teachers can help ensure that all children have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

A children's eye exam is important to your child’s overall eye health. Conditions such as amblyopia, strabismus, refractive errors, accommodative disorders, nystagmus, convergence insufficiency, colour blindness, diplopia, ptosis, cataracts, glaucoma, retinal detachment, optic nerve disorders, macular degeneration, and dry eye syndrome are screened for during a children's eye exam. Early detection and treatment of these conditions can prevent long-term visual problems and ensure that children have the visual skills they need to succeed in school and in life.

Book your child’s next eye exam with Specs in the City, where your child’s eyes will be examined by our expert optometrists in a comfortable environment. Contact us today at 403-252-2020 or through our online contact form


Q: At what age should children have their first eye exam?
A: Children should have their first eye exam at 6 months of age, then at 3 years of age, and again before they start school. Regular eye exams are recommended every 2 years, or more often if recommended by an eye doctor.

Q: How is a children’s eye exam conducted?
A: Children’s eye exams are non-invasive and will not cause any discomfort. The eye doctor will examine the eye and take imaging for a more detailed look. Depending on the age of the child, the optometrist may ask them questions to answer. If the child is too young or too nervous to be alone during an eye exam, a parent or guardian may accompany the child.

Q: What if my insurance doesn’t cover optical?
A: Children’s eye exams are covered by the Alberta government, so you won’t have to pay for any pediatric eye exams. If you need frames for your young child, Specs in the City is a part of the EYE SEE… EYE LEARN program, providing kindergarten children with free eyeglasses. To take advantage of this effort to reduce the barrier of cost when it comes to vision care, simply book an appointment with our SE Calgary optometrist and let them know you would like to take part in Eye See … Eye Learn. It’s that easy!

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