Keeping your child’s eyes healthy
Regular eye exams for your child can help find eye problems early and get the right treatment.
OHIP covers free yearly eye exams for children 19 and under.
Children won't always tell you if they are having problems with their eyes or vision.
As many as 10% of pre-school children have eye problems that can affect their eye health if left untreated.
That's why it's important to know what signs to look for, and to have your child's eyes checked regularly by an optometrist.
Support for resettled refugees and refugee claimants
In Canada, The Interim Federal Health Program provides some short-term eye care coverage, including eye exams and help paying for glasses. This program is for specific groups of people who do not have provincial health-care like OHIP or access to private health-care coverage.
Learn if you’re eligible for the Interim Federal Health Program.
Getting your child's eyes checked
A doctor called an optometrist will check your child's eyes. The optometrist will complete:
- General vision testing in both eyes.
- Eye muscle testing.
- Eye coordination testing.
- A general health assessment of the front and back of the eyes.
If needed, the optometrist will write a prescription for glasses for your child.
Having your child’s eyes checked by an optometrist is the best way to ensure good eye health.
Your child may have taken part in a vision screening program at school. Vision screenings are not the same as an eye exam done by an optometrist
The vision screening is a short series of tests that are done to identify children in need of eye exams. Screenings can't detect childhood eye diseases or vision problems.
Peel Public Health currently does not offer vision screening in schools.
Some optical stores offer sight tests to customers. The stores often use automated machinery to see what type of glasses you may need. These tests are not as accurate as an eye exam done by an optometrist.
When should your child have an eye exam
- At 6 months old, your child should have their first eye exam.
- Between ages 2 and 5, your child should have a second eye exam.
- Every year, an optometrist should check your child to ensure good eye health and developmental progress.
Learn more about children's eye exams and common eye conditions.
Signs of a vision issue can include:
- Squinting or blinking often.
- Eye rubbing.
- Tilting the head to the side on a frequent basis.
- Covering one eye.
- One eye that turns out or in.
Behavioural signs of a vision issue can include:
- Complains of headaches, nausea, or eye fatigue.
- Poor hand-eye coordination. For example, problems catching a ball.
- Short attention span.
- Avoids reading or any activity that requires close work.
- Behavioral issues that stem from frustration.
- Poor performance in academics and athletics.
- Appears clumsy or frequently bumps into things or drops things.
Some common eye problems in children do not show any symptoms. Take your child for a free an annual eye exam by an optometrist to maintain good vision health.
Eye See…Eye Learn
Gives free glasses to junior kindergarten students after an eye exam with a participating optometrist. Check with your optometrist before your appointment to see if they participate in the program. Learn more about Eye See…Eye Learn.
Gives free glasses through the OneSight Voucher Program. Patients must have their visual and financial need confirmed by a non-profit organization like a school, church, or the United Way. Learn more about how OneSight works.
Ontario Disability Support Program
If you are receiving income support from the Ontario Disability Support Program, you may be able to receive assistance with the cost of prescription glasses through the Vision Care benefit. Learn more about the Vision Care benefit.
If you are an Ontario Works client, you can get help paying for vision care for yourself and your family, including prescription glasses. Learn more about Ontario Works vision care coverage.