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What you need to know about eye care for the whole family

(NC) From infants and grade-schoolers through to parents and grandparents, eye health and quality of vision impacts every Ontarian. While the concerns for each age group vary, it is important for Ontarians to be aware of the eye care needs of the whole family.

For children, vision can impact learning and development. Each year, fewer than 14 per cent of Canadian children under the age of six have a comprehensive eye exam before entering school, despite the fact that an estimated one in six school-aged children has a vision problem. Common eye conditions affecting children include strabismus, or crossed eyes, amblyopia, or lazy eye, and poor eye coordination.

For adults, eye health can have an impact on virtually every aspect of day-to-day life. The workplace can be a particularly challenging area, as each profession has its own specific ergonomic environments and visual demands.

For seniors, each day can bring an increased risk of eye-related conditions, such as low vision, macular degeneration and even blindness. Other age related eye conditions that increase with age include presbyopia, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.

It is important for Ontarians of all ages to understand that regular, comprehensive eye exams by a Doctor of Optometry can identify serious eye conditions and diseases early, so that they can be properly treated and corrected.

The Ontario Association of Optometrists recommends the following groups schedule routine comprehensive eye exams with a Doctor of Optometry.

• Infants between six and nine months of age (at least once);

• Children between two and five years of age (at least once);

• Children five years of age and older (every 12 months);

• Adults over the age of 65 (every 12 months);

• Diabetes patients (every 12 months);

• Patients with systemic diseases that have vision complications, such as hypertension, thyroid disease, rosacea, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis;

• Patients taking medication with known vision side effects;

• Patients experiencing short periods of vision loss or visual disturbances (i.e. flashing light, floaters, etc.);

• Patients who wear contact lenses (every 12 months);

• Patients experiencing red eyes;

• Every Ontarian who has not had a comprehensive eye exam within the last two years.

The good news is that the Ontario Health Insurance Plan covers annual eye exams for Ontarians up to age 19, and age 65 or older. For more information about eye health or to find a local Doctor of Optometry, please visit

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Attention editors: This article is for distribution in Ontario only.

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