Dr. Karen Salaj, says, parents shouldn’t underestimate the importance of their child’s vision as they prepare them for the big step of entering junior kindergarten.
Eighty percent of a child’s learning occurs through the eyes, and if they are experiencing vision problems then their learning can be severely impacted.
It is known that children rarely complain about vision problems as many aren’t aware that they have any. Children, who may be experiencing vision problems believe that everyone sees the world the same way they do.
That’s why Dr. Karen Salaj, whose optometrist office is located in Morrisburg, is now on board with the Ontario Association of Optometrist program, Eye See…Eye Learn!
The program is aimed at raising awareness amongst parents of the importance of having their children’s eyes checked before starting school.
“This is just too important a program to let go,” says Dr. Salaj who will be promoting it extensively through the local schools in the next few weeks.
Eye exams for children up to the age of 19 are covered by OHIP. If the child (junior kindergarten age) requires glasses, that is where the Eye See…Eye Learn! comes into play to provide him/her with a complimentary pair through the support of Nikon Lenswear, OGI and the participating optometrist. Locally, that is Dr. Salaj here in South Dundas. The value of the glasses is estimated at over $250.
“I want to get kids into the office and get them checked,” says Dr. Salaj. “It is estimated that one in four kids have a vision problem. Learning is very dependent on being able to see in the classroom. If they can’t see, they will have difficulty learning.”
“Sixty percent of kids who have literacy problems have vision problems,” she points out.
Dr. Salaj says that the pre-kindergarten Eye See…Eye Learn! program, is a good addition to the Lions International screening program which is offered by the Morrisburg and District Lions at the grade 2 level at local schools.
The Lions program screening identifies problems. The parents are then notified and can follow up with a visit to an optometrist.
Dr. Salaj, also points out that there are some vision problems that can be corrected if caught early enough. “If it is just one eye that has a problem, that maybe won’t show up until later years. Some children have problems with depth perception. There are so many things.”
“I want parents to know that with the Eye See…Eye Learn! program, families don’t have to worry about not being able to afford it. Is is all covered and there is no out of pocket expense to them.”
Although the Eye See…Eye Learn! program is not new, Dr. Salaj only learned of it recently, and she is now pushing to try to get the current junior kindergarten students in for appointments.
The current Eye See…Eye Learn! coverage is for junior kindergarten students born in 2011. It runs out at the end of the current school year, June 30. Beginning July 1st, the intake will be for students entering junior kindergarten in September. (Those born in 2012.).
“So we basically just have a little over two months, for the kids in junior kindergarten now.”
Dr. Salaj says that of the recent six young students she has seen, three of them got glasses.
“There are a lot of kids who need glasses, but there are a lot who don’t too. At a young age, you can intervene and still help the development of the eyes. At 10 years old, it may be too late.”
Dr. Salaj will be sending pamphlets to the area schools and is hoping they will go home to the parents in their backpacks. It is available to all junior kindergarten students. Appointments can be made by calling 613-543-3208. The child’s health card will be required at the time of the appointment.
Children starting JK in the fall, can take advantage of the Eye See…Eye Learn program after July 1.