At the start of the year, a shiny new storefront opened up at Harwood Plaza – the Kodak Lens Vision Centre | eyeTrust Network. We asked Dr. Cassandra Chung, the primary optometrist at this clinic, to talk to us about why visual and eye health exams are important for our families.

Who should be getting eye exams and how often?

At KLVC, we have all of the latest technology to assess vision and eye health for adults and children alike. Eye exams are recommended for children first at 6 months, then around 2-3 years, again before the start of kindergarten and annually thereafter. Adults should be assessed annually especially those that work for long periods in front of a computer screen, or those who suffer from concurrent medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Why are childhood eye exams important?

Approximately 80% of a child’s learning is done through vision¹, and studies show that 60% of students identified as problem learners have undetected vision troubles². At 6 months, an eye doctor can spot if the baby’s eyes are developing normally and whether early treatment can prevent bigger problems down the road. Around 2-3 years old, a more comprehensive exam can be done. The most important eye exams, however, are during school years as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism can change quickly in that time. A child who cannot see clearly may exhibit signs of inattention or irritability. As such, I always recommend an eye exam as the first protocol in diagnosing concerns for a child’s classroom behaviour.

What are things to watch for between annual eye exams?

Squinting is the classic symptom of any person who may need glasses or contact lenses. Another sign is if your child tends to close one eye when looking at things. Try to notice if the eyes don’t seem aligned. In this case, you may notice that one of your child’s eyes tend to drift and don’t both point at the object he or she is looking at. Lastly, if your child rubs his or her eyes frequently or complains of headaches, it may be due to eyestrain or allergies, which can be diagnosed by an eye doctor. Other signs include red, itchy or watery eyes, sensitivity to light, eye pain, excessive blinking, poor concentration or irritability, holding objects very close, and avoiding books and television.

Give us a cool fact about eyes!

The eyes are the only place in the body where it is possible to look at the most microscopic blood vessels in the body in real time, non-invasively. As such, your eye doctor can detect early symptoms of serious health conditions such as diabetes.

[1] Ottar WL, Scott WK, Holgado SI. Photoscreening for amblyogenic factors. J Pediatr Ophthalmology Strabismus. 1995;32:289-295.
[2] American Optometric Association