Did you know that one-quarter of elementary children has a vision problem, and that many of these go undetected?
October is Children’s Vision Month, and local optometrist Dr. Elaine Kerr has come up with a unique way to help promote it.
Kerr has long been passionate about getting the word out about the importance of children’s eye exams, earning recognition as B.C.’s optometrist of the year in 2008 for her work helping to design a program and website for children and parents to learn about eyes and eye exams (www.absee.ca).
When she learned that the theme of Eye Health month this year would be children’s vision, she wanted to come up with a way to encourage parents to get their children’s eyes checked.
“Eye exams are so critical for kids, and many parents, don’t realize that just because a child seems to see fine it doesn’t mean everything is OK,” says Kerr. “The biggest condition we are concerned about, called amblyopia, occurs when one eye is blurred for some reason and the other isn’t.
“There are usually no outward signs of a problem, and if not corrected at an early age, it can cause permanent vision loss. The problem is that if the eye doesn’t get clear vision by age six or so, it may not be possible to ever get the eye-brain connection working properly.”
So how do you prevent it?
“If all children have a thorough eye exam by age 3, we’d be able to catch problems and takes steps to reverse or prevent it while the child is still young enough.”
That’s where Kerr has a plan.
“I had a chance to purchase a giant box filled with cute little stuffed otters, and when I found out October was Children’s Vision Month the You Otter Get Their Eyes Checked campaign was born! My aim is to encourage parents to bring their young children in for an eye exam so that problems can be ruled out.”
While supplies last, Coastal Eyecare Clinic in Courtenay will give one to all children under 7 who come in for an eye exam!
“I hope this might encourage parents to bring their kids in to make sure their vision is as good as it can be. There are so many cases of vision loss in kids that a thorough eye exam could have prevented. And school age children should also be checked as they may have undiagnosed eye muscle problems that can affect their learning and reading skills.”
Kerr also warns that while screening might catch some major problems, there have been quite a few children who have passed a screening test but still had an eye problem that required intervention. No referral is required for an eye exam by an optometrist.
You can contact Coastal Eyecare at 250-338-5327.
— Coastal Eyecare