Back-to-school prep: The Canadian Ophthalmological Society urges parents to monitor children’s vision to start the school year off right

Tuesday August 23, 2022

Highlighting the importance of good eye health for the classroom return this Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month

TORONTO, Aug. 23, 2022 /CNW/ – August marks Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month and as children prepare for a return to the classroom, the Canadian Ophthalmological Society is reminding parents that vision plays an important role in their child(ren)’s learning and academic success. Maintaining good eye health should be a priority for back to school, especially with the increasing evidence that prolonged screen time increases the risk of myopia (nearsightedness) in children. According to a recent survey by the Canadian Ophthalmological Society, 45 per cent of Canadians believe that too much screen time can cause myopia (nearsightedness) in children and adults.

“The start of the school year is always a good time to remember to monitor your child’s eyes and determine if they have had any changes to their vision,” says Dr. Phil Hooper, President of the Canadian Ophthalmological Society.  “A comprehensive evaluation early in the school year is important to detect changes and rectify them before they can have an impact on learning.”

The survey revealed that 83 per cent of respondents believe that prolonged screen time is harmful to their child(ren)’s eye health. Since the pandemic began, parents report that their children are spending about 4.4 hours in front of a screen on average, which is 1.2 hours more than they did prior to the pandemic. Three-in-five parents whose child(ren)’s COVID screen time is greater than pre-COVID feel that this increased screen time has negatively impacted their child(ren)’s eye health.

In addition to screen time, there are other factors that can damage vision, such as the lack of protective eyewear during sports and/or hobbies. The survey revealed that when it comes to eye protection during outdoor sports, only 20 per cent of respondents say their child(ren) wears protective eyewear regularly and only 22 per cent wear them regularly during hobbies (such as crafting or woodworking).

In addition to assessing your child’s vision, an eye exam can give eye doctors more insight into what’s going on with the rest of the body. For instance, once Amanda Gavin noticed changes in her son’s (Michael) vision, she booked an eye exam with Dr. Ken Roberts, a member of the Canadian Ophthalmological Society. Through the exam, Dr. Roberts noticed that Michael’s optic nerves were swollen and suggested that Michael get an MRI. This led to the discovery of a brain tumour, saving Michael’s life through early diagnosis, and highlights the importance of getting extensive eye exams.

To determine whether your child is experiencing changes to their vision, some of the common signs to look out for include:

To learn more about eye health and watch Michael’s full story, visit seethepossibilities.ca.

ABOUT THE SURVEY

An online survey of 2003 Canadians aged 18+ was completed between June 10 and June 21, 2022, using Leger’s online panel. No margin of error can be associated with a non-probability sample (i.e. a web panel in this case). For comparative purposes, though, a probability sample of 2003 respondents would have a margin of error of ┬▒2.2%, 19 times out of 20. Leger’s online panel has approximately 400,000 members nationally and has a retention rate of 90%.

About Canadian Ophthalmological Society

The Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS) is the national, recognized authority on eye and vision care in Canada. As eye physicians and surgeons, we are committed to assuring the provision of optimal medical and surgical eye care for all Canadians by promoting excellence in ophthalmology and by providing services to support our members in practice. Our membership includes over 900 ophthalmologists and 200 ophthalmology residents. We work collaboratively with government, other national and international specialty societies, our academic communities (ACUPO), our provincial partners and affiliates and other eye care professionals and patient groups to advocate for health policy in Canada in the area of eye and vision health. The COS is an accredited, award-winning provider of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) through the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) and is an affiliate of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA). For more information, visit cos-sco.ca.