Children may not know that they have a vision problem. They can’t always tell you what they see. One out of 4 children has a significant eye or vision problem that can interfere with learning and development. The Ontario Association of Optometrists recommends that every young child has complete eye examinations at ages 6 months, 3 years and every year thereafter or as recommended by your optometrist.
Does your child have an unusual eye appearance?
- One eye that looks turned in or out?
- Bumps, styes, redness, swelling or crusting of eyelids?
- Drooping eyelid?
- Haziness or whitish appearance inside the pupil?
- Frequently watery eyes?
Does your child behave in a way that could suggest a vision problem?
- Does not watch or follow an object?
- Touches things to help recognize them?
- Does not make eye contact?
- Closes or covers one eye?
- Squints or frowns when looking far or near?
- Rubs or touches the eyes a lot?
- Blinks more than usual?
- Reacts strongly to light?
- Turns or tilts head when viewing objects?
- Holds objects very close to face?
- Dislikes near tasks?
- Loses interest quickly or becomes irritable with visual activities?
- Has poor depth perception or trouble seeing 3D?
- Trips or bumps into things often?
- Is uncoordinated in activities and sports?
Does your child have any difficulties with learning?
- Has poor posture when reading/writing?
- Has poor handwriting?
- Moves head, loses place, skips lines when reading?
- Uses more effort than normal to complete school work?
- Works hard but is not achieving the expected level at school?
Is your child at risk for vision problems?
- Does a family member have a turned or lazy or blind eye?
- Does a family member have glasses?
- Has any family member had early childhood cataracts or glaucoma?
- Were there problems with the pregnancy or delivery?
- Was your child premature at birth?
- Does your child have a hearing loss?
- Does your child have a health condition that can affect eyes, such as:
- Cerebral palsy
- Juvenile arthritis
- Down syndrome
- Attention deficit disorder (ADHD)
- Developmental delay
The Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) covers the cost of an annual eye exam for children aged 0-19 years. To find an optometrist, you can call the Ontario Association of Optometrists at (800) 540-3837 or visit their website.
Learn more about free program for junior kindergarten students at www.EyeSeeEyeLearn.ca.
Adapted with permission from the Ontario Association of Optometrists
Dental checklist and information
Teach your child healthy dental habits early. Below are helpful oral health tips:
- Help or supervise your child to brush his teeth twice a day
- For your child less than 3 years of age, brush his teeth.
- For your child from 3 to 6 years of age, you should help him brush his teeth.
- Talk to your dentist or dental hygienist about the best way to brush your child’s teeth.
- Floss your child’s teeth at least once a day
- Many cavities start between teeth.
- Start cleaning between your child’s teeth when the teeth are touching.
- Talk to your dentist or dental hygienist about the best way to floss your child’s teeth.
- Use a pea-sized drop of fluoridated toothpaste for your child age 3 to 6 years of age
- Fluoride helps to strengthen the tooth enamel.
- Make sure your child does not swallow the toothpaste.
- Talk to your dentist or dental hygienist about the use of toothpaste.
- Check your child’s teeth
- Look for dull white spots or lines on the teeth. These may be on the necks of the teeth next to the gums.
- Dark teeth are also a sign of tooth decay.
- Make an appointment with a dentist right away if you see these signs.
- See a dentist to treat your cavities
- Bacteria that cause cavities can be passed on to your child.
- Anything that has been in your mouth should not be put in your baby’s mouth.
- Take your child to see a dentist by 12 months of age or within 6 months of getting his first teeth
- Cavities found early can be fixed more easily and cheaply.
- Only a dentist can perform a complete dental exam, make a diagnosis of tooth decay or other dental disease and prescribe treatment options.
- Offer healthy beverages
- Make water the drink of choice.
- Offer only water between meals and snacks.
- Other healthy drinks include white (unsweetened low-fat) milk and unsweetened fortified soy beverage. Offer 2 cups (500 mL) each day.
- Avoid or limit sugary beverages such as juice, pop, iced tea, and sport drinks.
- Offer healthy snacks
- Give your child snacks that include a variety of healthy foods from Canada’s Food Guide.
- Healthy snacks should always include a vegetable or fruit. Try cheese and apples, carrot sticks and hummus, whole grain pita bread triangles and raw veggies with bean dip.
- Snacking often on sugary, sticky, and starchy snacks will contribute to erosion of the enamel.
- Keep snacks and meals 2½-3 hours apart.
- Avoid constant snacking throughout the day.