Winter eyes

It’s that time of year when we start to feel dry, itchy,

Colour Blindness

Red-green and blue-yellow colour blindness is actually more accurately known as “colour vision deficiency” because you are not actually blind.

The ABCs of Back-to-School Eye Exams

It’s back-to-school season, with parents everywhere focused on purchasing school supplies, backpacks, and new clothing. All of this preparation is important to help our kids succeed in school, but too often parents overlook another essential aspect of academic success: good vision.

Did you know that 25% of children in Alberta begin grade one with an undiagnosed vision or eye health problem? Or that 80% of children’s learning is visual? When it comes to things your child needs to head back to school this fall, optimal vision should be at the top of the list. 

In this article, we’ll explore why it’s essential to have your child’s eyes checked by an optometrist at the start of the school year, and how undiagnosed vision issues can contribute to learning delays. Then, we’ll help you get your child ready for their exam by letting you know what to expect during a routine childhood eye exam.

How Vision Impacts Learning

Good vision isn’t just about seeing clearly. It’s a cornerstone of successful learning. The visual system plays a significant role in how children perceive and process information. This means that undiagnosed vision problems can lead to learning delays, academic struggles, and even behavioural issues.

When it comes to reading and writing, good vision is critical so that children can read text on chalkboards or whiteboards, in textbooks, and on worksheets. Children with uncorrected vision problems may struggle to keep up with their peers, leading to reading difficulties and slower academic progress.

Strained vision can also contribute to discomfort and fatigue. This makes it challenging for children to concentrate on their schoolwork, and can result in a lack of focus, shorter attention spans, and reduced comprehension. 

Even hand-eye coordination is impacted by vision. Activities that require good coordination, like writing or playing sports, can be hindered if there are uncorrected vision issues at play. This could deter your child from actively participating in physical education and extracurriculars, as well as impact their ability to write notes in class.

Finally, issues with behaviour or self-esteem can sometimes be traced back to vision problems. Poor vision can lead to headaches, eye rubbing, squinting, or a reluctance to participate in classroom activities. All of these behaviours may be misinterpreted as behavioural problems. Struggling in school due to an undiagnosed vision problem can also negatively impact a child’s self-esteem and confidence.

Detecting Vision Issues

The good news is that issues with your child’s vision can be identified through routine childhood exams. Optometrists are trained healthcare professionals who specialize in assessing and treating visual problems. Regular childhood appointments with an optometrist are essential because they can detect issues that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Having your eyes examined is relatively fast and painless. We’ll ensure that your child is comfortable throughout the appointment. Here’s what you can expect during a routine childhood optometry exam:

  • Visual acuity test: We’ll assess your child’s visual acuity, which measures how clearly they see at different distances. This is commonly done using an eye chart. If your child needs glasses, we can determine the prescription that will provide them with clear vision before they return to school.
  • Refraction test: This test fine-tunes the prescription for corrective lenses. Your child will look through a device that enables us to determine the optimal correction.
  • Binocular vision assessment: Optimal vision requires your eyes to work well together. This test can identify any issues with alignment or coordination that can lead to issues like double vision or difficulty focusing. 
  • Eye health exam: A visit to the optometrist encompasses not only how your child sees, but also how healthy their eyes are. We’ll check for any abnormalities, diseases, or conditions that may affect their vision. This is critical for early detection and intervention, preventing problems from negatively impacting their learning and development.
  • Pupil reaction test: We’ll ensure that your child’s pupils respond well to light. Irregular pupil reactions can indicate neurological or eye health issues. 
  • Colour vision: Colour vision deficiencies can affect a child’s ability to distinguish colours accurately, so we’ll ensure that we identify any issues that could be holding them back.
  • Eye muscle function test: Finally, we’ll evaluate the muscles that control eye movement and coordination. Problems in this area can lead to eye strain and discomfort.


Depending on your individual circumstances, we may also recommend other tests or screening for your child. The good news is that children typically find the examination process easy—and we’ll do everything we can to make them comfortable throughout.

Early Intervention

Detecting and addressing vision issues early is essential to promote your child’s academic success and protect their overall wellbeing. If your child requires corrective lenses or other interventions, addressing these needs early can prevent learning delays, boost their self-esteem, and help to foster a more positive attitude toward school.

So what can you do as a parent? Start by making an appointment for your child to have their eyes checked as they return to school this year. A skilled optometrist can ensure that their vision is optimal and their eyes are healthy, even if they haven’t shown any noticeable signs of concern. Many eye conditions are asymptomatic in their early stages, meaning that the best way to identify potential problems is by regularly having your child’s vision assessed by a professional.

Book an Appointment Today!

Ensure that your child’s vision is in optimal condition by booking an appointment at Dr. Sam Dhaliwal & Associates, and kick off the new school year with confidence. Alberta Health  covers the cost of annual eye exams for children, and kindergarten students may even be eligible for a free pair of glasses through the Eye See…Eye Learn program. 

Now is the ideal time to schedule a comprehensive eye exam, giving you the assurance that your child is ready for the school year ahead. It’s not just about having a clear view of the blackboard—it’s also about providing them with a brighter future, free from any obstacles that undiagnosed vision issues can create. This September, help your kids reach their full potential, in the classroom and beyond, starting with a comprehensive eye exam.