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Hastings and Prince Edward Public Health
boy with glasses and eye test chart

Vision Screening

What is the Vision Screening Program? 

In accordance with the Ontario Public Health Standards established by the Ministry of Health, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health provides vision screening at school for all students in senior kindergarten (SK). 

What is involved in vision screening? 

  • Vision screening involves three short and simple tests that are used to find out if a child might have eye problems.
  • Children who already have glasses will be screened wearing their glasses.
  • Screening is non-invasive, so it is not harmful or painful in any way.
  • It cannot diagnose a vision disorder, but it may show the need for a full eye examination by an Optometrist, to make sure your child has healthy eyes and can see properly.

Why is good visual health important?

  • Every year in Ontario, over 15,000 children have trouble learning to read because they need glasses to improve their vision.
  • Over 50% of children who have vision screening do not pass all three simple tests and need a referral to an Optometrist.
  • Your child needs healthy eyes and good vision to learn to read and write, see the board, use a computer, participate in sports, and stay safe.

Why is school-based vision screening important?

  • Parents, guardians, and teachers can’t always tell when a child has trouble seeing, and children usually think their own vision is normal. 
  • If it is not found and corrected early, some eye problems can affect a child’s vision for life. 
  • In Belleville, and the surrounding area, less than half of the children between the ages of two to five have had their eyes examined. This means some vision problems are being missed.
  • A comprehensive eye examination and treatment can significantly improve a child’s life.

What happens during vision screening?

School vision screening is made up of three short tests to assess the following:

  1. The structure of the child’s eyes (using automated equipment)
  2. How clear the child’s vision is (using a simple letter chart)
  3. Depth perception/blending images from both eyes (using a special 3-D picture book)

What will happen after the vision screening takes place?

Your child will receive a letter to bring home to you, with the screening results.

  • If your child did not pass the screening, it is very important to see an optometrist for a full eye exam as soon as possible.
  • If your child passed the vision screening, a full eye exam is still recommended before the age of five, and they should have regular visits throughout the school years.
  • If your child missed the vision screening, you will receive a letter with the reason why they were not screened—for example, if they were absent, wearing an eye patch, uncooperative, or had an eye infection—and a recommendation to take them to an Optometrist for a full eye examination.

What else do I need to know?

  • Vision screening does not replace a comprehensive eye exam by an Optometrist. 
  • An eye exam with an Optometrist is free of charge, (once every 12 months, up to the age of 19) with a valid OHIP card.
  • To find a local Optometrist, call the Ontario Association of Optometrists at 1-800-540-3837 or visit

Can I get a first pair of eyeglasses for free?

Some programs offer assistance with the cost of prescription eyeglasses. For example, the Loblaw’s Kids See Free program at Loblaw Optical locations offers a free pair of eyeglasses to children from 4 to10 years of age if they have a recent prescription (within the last 90 days). 

For assistance or more information, call Public Health at 613-966-5500 or 1-800-267-2803, ext. 223.

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1) Our offices are temporarily closed to the public to allow us to respond to COVID-19 demands. However, phone lines remain open. The COVID-19 information line is operating 7 days a week (excluding statutory holidays) from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. All other program lines are operating Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

2) Returning travellers must self-isolate for 14 days and contact Public Health if symptoms of COVID-19 develop.

If you have returned from travel anywhere outside of Canada, you must self-isolate for 14 days and immediately contact Public Health or your local health care provider if you develop symptoms of COVID-19. Earlier this month all travellers were asked to self-isolated when they returned to Canada. Effective March 25, the federal government made this isolation mandatory under the Quarantine Act to better protect our most vulnerable citizens. Each of us must make the responsible decision to follow the advice of health authorities. It’s in everyone’s best interest to do everything we can to stop the spread of COVID-19.