BATHURST (GNB) – The provincial government is reminding parents and guardians to get their child’s eyes tested before they enter or return to school in September.

“Your government understands the importance of giving our students all the tools we can for them to reach their full potential in school,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Brian Kenny. “Problems with literacy can stem from vision problems. A simple eye test can make a big difference in how a child learns.”

The Healthy Smiles, Clear Vision program provides free eye exams and corrective glasses for all four-year-olds who are not covered by a public or private health insurance program. For those with existing health insurance, the program will cover any difference between the amount covered by the insurance policy and the maximum allowed under the program.

“Preparing your child for school includes more than pencils and paper,” said Craig Caldwell, the Anglophone North School District’s director of schools. “Good vision is important for a child to succeed in the classroom.”

Parents and guardians are encouraged to have their child’s vision assessed before the child enters kindergarten.

Healthy Smiles, Clear Vision is a fundamental program that brings awareness to parents and shows the importance of having a comprehensive eye exam performed at an early age,” said optometrist Dr. Joceline Maillet-Boudreau. “Vision or ocular health conditions can only be diagnosed and treated when a child is seen by an optometrist. As an eye care provider, I am pleased that this vision plan has been implemented in our province.”

The Healthy Smiles, Clear Vision program complement the goals outlined in the government’s 10-year education plans which aim to improve educational outcomes and better prepare young people for the future. They set objectives in priority areas to create inclusive environments in which all students can become lifelong learners.