With Only 1 in 6 Children in Quebec Getting Regular Eye Care, Are We Doing Enough?

As more children in Quebec suffer from eye problems, healthcare providers and the government have initiated developments that can help strengthen the state of eye care in the province.

Vision problems remain prevalent across Canada. A report published by Deloitte Access Economics found that 1.2 million Canadians currently live with vision loss, and the number is expected to increase to 2 million by 2050. According to the report, this has led to billions in spending on healthcare expenses. 

Despite the pervasiveness of eye problems, a survey by Essilor revealed that Canadian parents often overlook the vision health of their children. The same study found that in Quebec, 1 in 6 parents have never brought their child to an eye doctor, increasing their risk of developing ocular issues that could otherwise be prevented through early detection. Below, we take a look at the state of eye care in Quebec and what initiatives are being implemented to address vision needs.

Lack of foresight

The Essilor report found that an estimated 12,000 kids in Quebec had a drop in school performance before their parents found out they had visual problems. It further stated that almost half (44.7%) of the children experienced struggles with their eyesight before parents recognised their need for vision correction. Eye problems can compromise learning and quality of life. Research found that 80% of learning happens through a clear and healthy vision. However, in Quebec, only one-third of the parents who participated in Essilor’s survey said that their children’s visual needs were identified during a regular visit to an eye doctor or physician.

According to the optometrist and professor Dr. Langis Michaud, kids will not immediately complain if they encounter difficulties seeing at school. If undetected through preventive eye care, these will go untreated and may worsen over time. This underscores the importance of bringing your children to regular eye exams to prevent conditions like myopia, which happens when the eyeball becomes longer, leading to blurred images of far objects.

Making eye care accessible

Vision correction is one way of helping your children with compromised vision navigate their daily lives. Luckily, private retailers are now making their services available online, allowing easier access. Retailer Eyebuydirect lets you purchase glasses online and choose a preferred frame shape, size, and colour. With their virtual try-on feature, you can check if frames like those from Synapse or Daydream fit your child’s face before adding a prescription to the lenses. Purchases can also be covered by insurance. All you need to do is look for a reimbursement form from your insurance provider on the website, upload your invoice, and submit it.

Aside from private retailers making glasses more available online, Essilor has also launched a new lens in Canada that can help decelerate myopia progression. The Essilor Stellest lenses provide a more effective option for children battling myopia and can reduce the risks of further eye health complications in adulthood. The company also has a web portal where parents can learn about myopia and find the nearest eye expert.

Strengthening public healthcare 

While private entities have stepped up to address the vision needs of Quebecers, a study by the Angus Reid Institute found that many Canadians would prefer to see improvements in the public healthcare system instead of expanding private healthcare. Such improvements can be seen in 2023 when two retinologists at the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital in Montreal successfully performed a groundbreaking surgery that helped reverse a rare genetic eye disease that could have caused an 11-year-old boy to go blind. By surgically administering Luxturna, a gene therapy drug from the United States, doctors were able to treat a once-untreatable disease. This gene therapy is the first procedure of its kind in Quebec and the first to be publicly funded in Canada. This is a step in the right direction toward funding public healthcare, specifically eye care.

As more children in Quebec suffer from eye problems, private healthcare providers and the government have initiated developments that can help strengthen the state of eye care in the province.