Children's Vision Month

Oct 2015

Winnipeg's Health and Wellness Magazine

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S u p p l e m e n t T o T h e W I N N I P E G F R E E P R E S S | S a t u r d a y , O c t o b e r 1 7 , 2 0 1 5 EAST ST. PAUL EYECARE CENTRE 3000BirdsHillRoad,EastSt.Paul Call 204.663.7564 for appointments WWW.EASTSTPAULEYECARE.CA NOW NOW OPEN OPEN AfullserviceprofessionaleyecarecentreservingEastWinnipegandruralEastManitoba AfullserviceprofessionaleyecarecentreservingEastWinnipegandruralEastManitoba View online at CATCH VISION PROBLEMS EARLy A child's first visit to the optometrist can be an eye-opening experience for some parents since significant vision problems might already exist. As president of the Manitoba Association of Optometrists, Dr. Kelsey Bruce urges parents to get their children's eyes checked before they begin school. First appointments can be scheduled for babies as young as six months. If there are no problems, they can return at age three followed by annual appointments. "It's so imperative to have your child come in. You might never think your child has a problem, but you don't actually know until we shine the light in their eyes and figure out if they need glasses," Bruce says. "If there's anything we can do to make their life easier and make the learning process easier for school, that is just a win-win all the way around." Thanks to a nationwide program called Eye See... Eye Learn ® , which is offered to school divisions across the country, it's even simpler to encourage early childhood visits to a doctor of optometry. Throughout school divisions that have signed up for the program, parents receive a form recommending they schedule a full eye exam for kids before they start kindergarten. "This is one of the really great programs that we've been working with," Bruce says. "We're checking for glasses. We're checking eye health. We're checking eye muscles. It's not a screening test. It's a full eye exam." Parents might not be aware of vision problems because children likely don't know anything is wrong with how they see the world. But an optometrist might discover conditions such as astigmatism, far- sightedness, near-sightedness or lazy eye. "When a child goes to school without the proper prescription for their vision, their challenges to be able to learn are huge," Bruce says. The good news is that many vision problems can be resolved if they are discovered in early childhood. "If you don't catch them early enough, they become permanent. After a certain point, their eye and their brain have made that connection, which is probably solidified around the age of seven or eight. But if you get them when they're younger, you can help fix that," Bruce says. VISION MONTH CHILDREN'S By Jennifer McFee For the Free Press continued on page 2 Dr. Kelsey Bruce, president of the Manitoba Association of Optometrists. Photo by Darcy Finley "If they're coming in too late, that weak eye or amblyopia becomes permanent. It's so much harder to deal with and it is preventable. With glasses, their weak eye might have been strengthened and their vision improved to 20-20. After a certain time, their vision will be reduced for the rest of their life, even if they have glasses." Setting her sights on the future, Bruce hopes even more Manitoba school divisions will sign up for the Eye See... Eye Learn ® program. "A lot of times, they send students off for expensive cognitive tests in schools when

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