Eye See…Eye Learn program to fund eyecare for Kindergarteners
$90K invested in the first year, another $30K in funding annually going forward
The P.E.I. government has become the second province to fund eye exams and glasses for children in Kindergarten.
As of January, the Eye See…Eye Learn program will give eligible children who started Kindergarten in September 2014 a free eye exam and a free pair of glasses, if required.
For the rest of the school year, children in Grade 1 and Grade 2 will also be eligible.
"Going forward, kindergarten children will be eligible for the program from July 1 to June 30 each year," said Health P.E.I. in a news release.
Kindergartener Tristan Wood already has his first pair of glasses, he got them before the program started. His mom Tara Wood says the cost of the glasses put a bit of dent in the household budget.
"We didn't really notice it at first but it really started to impact his writing, and his eyes were starting to hurt, so we couldn't wait any longer. We had to get it or he would have fallen behind," said Wood.
"When it's all said and done, it was close to $500. It was before Christmas, it was quite a drain," said Wood.
Optometrist Dr. Jayne Toomes, president of the P.E.I. Association of Optometrists, says eyesight is essential for learning.
"About 80 per cent of learning is through visual at that age group, so it's important that any child that has a vision problem be detected," she said.
The program was announced too late to help out Tristan but it might help his little brother.
"If it is still around when he's of age to get glasses and he does need glasses, I'll definitely take advantage of it," said Wood.
Prince Edward Island and Alberta are the only two provinces to offer the program province-wide.
"Good eyesight is critical to learning," said Health and Wellness Minister Doug Currie. "The program will ensure that all children can have their eyes checked when they start school."
Government will invest more than $90,000 in the program the first year and another $30,000 annually going forward.