Health & Wellness

What Parents Need to Know About Eye Exams and How to Help Your Child Love Their Glasses

This post was written in partnership with Real Canadian Superstore.

May is Vision Health Month which makes this a great time to get your family’s regular eye exams done. Did you know that one in seven Canadians will develop a serious eye disease in their lifetime? Regular vision care is vital to your eye health and overall wellness!

Think of an eye exam by a licensed Optometrist as a “physical” for your eyes to keep them in tip top shape and head off any potential problems early. It’s not just about whether you need glasses or not. Eye exams can also detect underlying health conditions, including the early warning signs of hypertension, high cholesterol, vascular disease, thyroid disease, brain tumours, and diabetes.

When Should You Get Your Child’s Eyes Checked?

Babies should have their first eye exam between six and nine months of age, and then again between two and five years of age. Once they start school, kids should be checked every year since vision changes can occur without parents or children even noticing. Fortunately, eye exams for children are covered in most provinces and territories. Here in British Columbia, children’s annual eye exams are included in our provincial health plan, so there’s no reason not to get it done!

Kay was four years old when we first discovered she was having vision problems, and I had no idea that anything was wrong with her eyesight until she had her first eye exam. I still feel kinda guilty that I waited as long as I did to get her in to see an Optometrist, but now I truly understand just how important it is to ensure kids get early and regular vision care.

One in four school aged children has some kind of vision problem, and left untreated, these problems can contribute to developmental and learning issues. Some signs to watch out for include:

  • Having difficulty reading
  • Sitting close to the TV or holding a book too close
  • Frequent eye rubbing
  • Sensitivity to light or excessive tearing
  • Closing one eye to read or watch TV
  • Avoiding using a computer because it hurts their eyes
  • Having trouble seeing the chalkboard
  • A sudden drop in grades

If you notice any of these, book an eye exam with a licensed Optometrist right away. On-site Optical Departments at Real Canadian Superstores make it easy to get their eyes checked out during your weekly grocery trip!

How to Help Your Child Love Their Glasses

Okay, your child has had their eye exam, and you’ve discovered they need glasses. If you’re lucky, your child will be really excited to get glasses and adapt quickly. But for lots of kids, it doesn’t go that smoothly.

When we first found out that Kay needed glasses, she was really nervous about looking different from her friends and didn’t want to wear them. Luckily, there are several things you can do to help if your child is expressing reluctance as well.

  • We all want to find just the right pair of glasses, but it’s even more important when it comes to kids who might feel self-conscious about looking different. Give them as much say as possible in choosing the glasses they’ll end up wearing day after day. Opticals at Real Canadian Superstores carry the most popular brands like Ray-Ban, bebe, Nike, Vogue, Tommy Hilfiger, Cole Haan, and Calvin Klein, as well as in-house brands Joe Fresh and FreshSpex.

  • I think it helped Kay that I already wore glasses, but if nobody in your immediate family does, then remind your child of other significant people in their life who wear glasses. Perhaps a teacher, a favourite neighbour, or a family friend?
  • Help your child make a list of their favourite TV characters, actors, athletes, singers, etc. who also wear glasses.
  • Lots of kid’s shows have episodes that aim to help familiarize kids with eye exams and getting their first pair of glasses. Some of our favourites include Doc McStuffins’ “Through the Reading Glasses”, Peppa Pig’s “The Eye Test”, and the Sesame Street episode where Abby and Prince Charming see the eye doctor.

  • Make sure that the glasses they choose fit properly. Kids won’t want to wear uncomfortable glasses that pinch or keep slipping down their nose. . The trained opticians at Real Canadian Superstore Optical locations will help ensure a proper fit.
  • Start slow and gradually increase the time your child wears their glasses. Offer lots of praise and let your child’s teachers and other caregivers know to encourage and support your child to wear their glasses as much as possible too.

How Often Should You Get Your Eyes Checked?

Ideally we should have a life long relationship with our Optometrist, the same way we do with our family doctor or dentist. How often you should get your eyes checked changes based on your age. The Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) has developed evidence-based guidelines for how often every member of your family should get an eye exam:

  • Infants and Toddlers (birth to 24 months) – Book your baby’s first eye examination between the ages of 6 and 9 months.
  • Preschool Children (2 to 5 years) – Preschoolers should have at least one eye examination between the ages of 2 and 5 years.
  • School Age Children (6 to 19 years) – Since children’s eye health can change rapidly, annual checks are important.
  • Adults (20 to 39 years) – Book an eye exam every two to three years.
  • Adults (40 to 64 years) – Book an eye exam every two years.
  • Adults (65 years or older) – The most common causes of serious vision loss (cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy) occur later in life so it’s especially important for older adults to get regular eye exams every year.

On-site Optical locations at your local Real Canadian Superstore make it simple and convenient to get your entire family’s eyes examined and, if necessary, pick up new glasses all at the same place you do your grocery shopping. Anything that saves time and money as well as helps me take care of my family is a plus in my book!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored conversation. Nevertheless, all opinions expressed are completely honest and my own. Your experience may differ.

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