CTV Interview with Dr. Farah Lakhani on Children’s Eye Health

Dr. Farah Lakhani and Colin Henry were interviewed about Children’s Eye Health by Courtney Ketchen, a CTV News Host on the CTV Morning Live show in Calgary.

Dr. Farah Lakhani provides a perspective about the importance eye exams for children from an Optometrists point of view and Colin Henry (with his daughter Sophia) provides a perspective from a parent’s point of view.

View a video of the interview on ctvnews.ca.

Below is a transcription of the interview.

Courtney: Good morning, October is children’s vision month and Alberta Optometrists are encouraging parents to get their children’s eyes examined. Dr. Farah Lakhani joining us now with, we have little 2 year old Sophia and her dad Colin. Good morning you guys!

Dr. Farah Lakhani: Good morning!

Courtney: Thanks for being here – let’s start with you Dr. Farah. Tell us a little bit about children’s eyes, and paying attention to them, and getting exams are just as important as with older residents.

Dr. Farah Lakhani: Yes, the Canadian Association of Optometrists strongly recommend that children get their first eye exam between the age of 6 to 9 months. The next eye exam as a toddler, at least one between the age of 2 and 5, and then yearly in school aged children. The reason that we recommend that, even at such a young age, is because learning is highly tied to their vision. 80% of learning is through their eyes and studies have shown that 1 in 4 children, 25% of school aged children, actually have a vision problem.

Courtney: Really?

Dr. Farah Lakhani: Yes, that affects them both academically at school, socially, and in play. If a child is at school and they can’t see the chalkboard, they can’t learn.

Courtney: Exactly.

Dr. Farah Lakhani: If they’re at home and they’re experiencing headaches or they’re having focusing problems up close, they can’t do their homework. So, it’s essential that children get their eyes examined at an early age to catch all of these types of things.

Courtney: Okay, so Colin, you have taken little Sophia for 2 exams now. From a parents perspective, what has it been like? Were you nervous heading into it?

Colin: No, not really. They’re usually pretty quick. Obviously, they do eye exams on children all the time, so they’re fully aware of how they constantly like to move and eat snacks and you know all that sort of things. They’re usually pretty understanding and willing to work with the kid. It’s not always perfect, but it usually doesn’t take very long.

Courtney: And I imagine this peace of mind as a parent to know that you have gone for these exams and you know that Sophia’s eyes are where they should be and that she’s developing accordingly.

Colin: Yeah, absolutely. You always want the best for your kids. Honestly, it’s not a very big commitment to go in and get their eyes examined. It’s as long as it takes to pack them into the car and get them to the doctors office. You’re in, you’re out. An hour of your time and [you get] the peace of mind that your kid’s going to be able to learn and see the world the way that you want them to.

Courtney: Exactly, and Dr. Farah, so we were saying that it’s similar to an adult eye exam?

Dr. Farah Lakhani: Well it depends on the age of the child. When a child is 6 to 9 months of age, usually they don’t know their letters or their numbers, so everything is very objective. We usually check pupil function, we’ll check the eye alignment, and then we put drops in their eyes to check the vision and the health of the eyes. Now, when they’re Sophia’s age, around 2 to 5 [years old], usually they know [how to interpret] at least pictures, so we can get them to read pictures far away and up close, and then check the health of their eyes. As they grow and mature, we add in colour vision and depth perception [tests]. Then in school aged children, by the time they are in kindergarten / grade 1, and they’re coming in routinely every year, those eye exams are quite similar to adult eye exams, where we’re checking everything – binocular vision, pupil function, health of the eyes in addition to the vision.

Courtney: Okay and there are some warning signs parents can be aware of to watch for with their children’s eyes?

Dr. Farah Lakhani: Yes, a lot of the times, parents would think that “I would know if my child is having an issue, if they’re bumping into things, or they’re squinting, or they have a head turn or an eye turn”, but studies have shown that 61% of parents actually mistakenly report that they would know if something was wrong. That’s why it’s so important, it’s vital to take your child in for an eye exam. Children don’t know at this age that if they’re seeing double, that’s not normal. They don’t know if they are only seeing out of one eye. Fewer than 14% of school aged children have had their eyes examined, and it’s just vital that children are taken in to get their eyes examined.

Courtney: Well it’s a great conversation to get going – just the tip of the iceberg, but really just making it aware and how easy it is to get your child in for the eye exam. You can head to the website for more information. It is optometrists.ab.ca for more information. Thank you so much you guys! Thanks Sophia, you’re awesome!

Dr. Farah Lakhani: Thank you!

Colin: Thank you!