Skip Navigation

Visual Health For Children

The Halton Region Health Department offers information about visual health for children.
One child in four has an undetected vision problem that can have a negative impact on their learning and development. Eighty per cent of classroom learning depends on the eyes, so good vision is an important part of learning and growing. If left untreated, vision problems can lead to problems at school and at play. Before your child begins school, book an eye exam with an optometrist (external link).

What happens during an eye exam?

An eye exam is performed by an optometrist and identifies eye diseases and vision problems. During an eye exam, your optometrist will check your child for the following:
  • general vision in both eyes;
  • eye muscle testing;
  • eye coordination testing; and
  • a general health assessment of the front and back of the eye.

Why are eye exams for children important?

A comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist is the only way to tell if your child's eyes are developing properly. Many eye health problems can be treated if they are caught early.
Did you know that:

  • children rarely complain about vision problems because often they are not aware they have one. They don’t know what good vision looks like.
  • children with poor vision often find it hard to focus on their work, and may be misdiagnosed with a behavioural problem.
  • good vision is vital to developing skills such as reading, copying and hand-eye coordination.
  • 60 per cent of children with learning difficulties have an undetected vision problem.
  • poor vision can impact a child’s self-esteem and social development.

At what age should a child get an eye exam?

It is recommended that all children have their first eye exam at six months old. Preschool children should have at least one eye exam between the ages of two and five years of age. At age six, school children should begin having annual eye exams. Junior or senior kindergarten school entry is an ideal time for a child’s eyes to be examined.

Where can my child go for an eye exam?

Your child can visit an optometrist, family doctor or primary health care provider. You can find an optometrist at (external link)

The Halton Region Health Department does not perform eye exams.

Is there a cost to get an eye exam?

The Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) covers the cost of one major eye exam for vision and general eye health every 12 months for children 19 years and younger.

What is the difference between an eye exam and vision screening?

Comprehensive eye exam

An eye exam completed by an optometrist that includes a full assessment, diagnosis, advice, treatment and eyeglasses (if needed).

Vision screening

A series of tests that can detect potential risk factors of certain vision disorders and may identify when a referral to an optometrist is necessary. A vision screening cannot diagnose vision disorders and does not replace a comprehensive eye examination by an optometrist.


My child participated in a vision screening at school – is this enough?

Many children participate in vision screening or sight test programs at school. Vision screenings are not a substitute for a comprehensive eye exam. Only a comprehensive eye exam performed by an optometrist can detect childhood eye diseases and vision problems.

Does the Halton Region Health Department offer vision screenings or eye exams?

No. The Health Department refers families to their doctor, primary health care provider or local optometrist.

Are there any programs to help with the cost of purchasing glasses?

Yes, there are a few local programs available to eligible Halton residents:

Eye See…Eye Learn® (ESEL)

  • Helps detect, diagnose and treat children with vision problems when they begin junior or senior kindergarten
  • Junior or senior kindergarten students receive an eye exam with a participating optometrist (insured by OHIP), and if prescribed, one complementary pair of glasses.
  • For more information, visit (external link)

OneSite OnSite Voucher Program

  • Eligible patients with a referral from a charitable/non-profit organization in the community can receive glasses free of charge at a participating EssilorLuxottica retail location (i.e. LensCrafters, Pearle Vision)
  • For more information, visit OneSite OnSite Voucher Program (external link)