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Access to Vision Care helps Power Essilor Canada's Mission

By Essilor Canada

With 2.2 million Canadians living with uncorrected vision, including 600,000 children, Essilor Canada has committed to providing access to vision care to this population in conjunction with industry and government partners. The company’s mission of improving lives by improving sight can only be achieved if all Canadians have the clear vision they deserve.

Eye See...Eye Learn®
The early childhood eye health and vision awareness program Eye See...Eye Learn® by the Alberta Association of Optometrists (AAO) encourages parents to take their kindergarten-aged children to a doctor of optometry for a comprehensive eye examination. “Our goal is to ensure that eye health or vision problems do not prevent children from reaching their full learning potential,” says Dr. Troy Brady, President, AAO.

During a comprehensive exam, if the child requires glasses, a pair is provided free of charge.  This is where the partnership with Essilor Canada comes to play. “Essilor Canada provides the lenses and inserts them into the frames free of charge. This program could not have the impact it has if it weren’t for our working partnership with Essilor,” says Dr. Brady. “Together with the AAO we are able to make a true difference and impact the lives, in a positive way, of these kids who otherwise could have gone for months, if not years, without proper eye care,” says Simon Robert, Essilor Group’s Mission Senior Director.

Thanks to the program, 43.3% of kindergarten-aged children in Alberta are now seeing their optometrist vs. 14% when the program began in 2003.  The program distributed 2,071 pairs of glasses last school year and for 65.7% of these children, it was their first pair. Since 2003, 21,067 pairs of glasses have been given to children by Essilor Canada through the program.

Eyes to As
Over in Ontario, Essilor Canada is piloting an in-school vision care program with the Ottawa–Carleton District School Board and Education Foundation of Ottawa. Statistics show that there are as many as 8,000 children who require correction yet do not have access to eyeglasses in Ottawa’s school boards alone.

The program, called Eyes to As, being developed for the OCDSB and Education Foundation of Ottawa works as a coalition of partners from existing initiatives, working together to go to each of the identified schools every year to make sure that the children who most need help in accessing vision care services have the barriers of access removed.

Eyes to As brings trained volunteer vision screeners from the Lions Club and University of Ottawa medical school’s iScreen interest group into schools identified by the Education Foundation as needing help. All of the children in the school are seen, and for those with possible vision issues, parents are notified of a referral for an eye exam. An optometrist from the Canadian Council of the Blind’s mobile eye clinic initiative then visits the school and conducts the comprehensive eye exams, and children needing glasses receive them free of charge from Essilor Canada. To date, 564 children from four schools have been screened and 262 have been referred to an optometrist with the majority never having seen an optometrist before.