CAO Recommends Eye Exams in Parents’ Back to School Routines

Gear up your child for school the right way— with a comprehensive eye exam.

OTTAWA, ON, September 1, 2016 — It’s that time of year again: summer is winding down, and it’s time to get ready for back to school. Most parents’ routines involve shopping for new clothing and school supplies so their children are prepared to succeed. What many parents tend to overlook is their child’s most important learning tool: their eyes. 

“Early comprehensive eye exams are critical to helping children succeed in life and provide the best opportunity to correct vision problems,” says CAO President Dr. Barry Thienes. “A child’s eyes are constantly used in the classroom and at play. Reading, writing, chalkboard work, and using computers are among the visual tasks students perform daily.” 

One in four children has a vision-related learning difficulty. A child with a visual problem won’t know how the world looks and will assume that what they are seeing is normal. What’s more, children with uncorrected vision or eye health problems face many barriers in life: academic, social and athletic.  

It can be hard for a child to catch up after struggling and falling behind through the basics of reading, writing, and math. Countless children in Canada are told every day that they have a learning disability when in reality the problem was their vision. A vision screening is not enough.  

“A child who sees 20/20 can still have a vision problem,” says Dr. Thienes. Visual acuity is one aspect of our visual system, but the skills needed for successful reading and learning are much more complex. Vision-related learning problems can cause children to reverse words when writing or copying, confuse the same word in the same sentence, skip lines while reading or read the same line twice. ”Optometrists don’t just check sight.  They check how well the eyes work together and how sight is processed.” 

Vision problems aren’t always obvious (especially if it’s a problem with only one eye), and the development of a growing child’s eyes doesn’t stabilize until age 20. CAO recommends bringing your school-age child for a comprehensive eye exam every year. 

About the Canadian Association of Optometrists

The Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) is the national voice of optometry in Canada, representing 85% of doctors of optometry (ODs). Founded in 1941 and formally incorporated in 1948, the CAO works with its 10 provincial member associations within a federated framework. The CAO is dedicated to collaboratively advancing the highest standard of primary eye care through the promotion of optimal vision and eye health, in partnership with all Canadians.  

Doctors of optometry are health care specialists trained to diagnose, treat, and help prevent diseases and disorders affecting the eyes, and also assist in identifying general health conditions that are often first detected through an eye exam. Doctor of optometry-recommended treatments for patients can include eyeglasses, contact lenses, special low vision aids, eye coordination exercises, drug therapies, or referral to appropriate specialists for advanced medical, surgical, or laser treatments.

For more information on CAO and doctors of optometry, visit   

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