CTV Interview with Dr. Farah Lakhani

Dr. Farah Lakhani was interviewed about Children’s Eye Health by Kathy Le, a CTV News Host on the CTV Morning Live show in Calgary.

View a video of the interview on ctvnews.ca.

Below is a transcription of the interview.

Kathy: Figuring out if your child has a vision problem can be tough for many reasons. Maybe they can’t talk yet or maybe they don’t know how to verbalize when something is wrong – which is why it’s crucial to take your child to an Optometrist early. Dr. Farah Lakhani, a Doctor of Optometry, from Dr. Farah Lakhani & Associates has some guidance for parents.

Good morning, thanks for being here today.

Dr. Farah Lakhani: Thanks for having me.

Kathy: So this statistic was startling to me: 1 in 4 kids has vision problems.

Dr. Farah Lakhani: They do. It’s really interesting: 80% of learning happens through our eyes. As kids are entering kindergarten, a really important thing that we’ve learned is that only 22% of children going into kindergarten have had their eyes examined – despite the fact that 1 in 4 actually need glasses.

What we’ve done is we have this amazing program, it’s called Eye See Eye Learn and it is a joint partnership between the Alberta Association of Optometrists and our Provincial Authorities where we do the eye exam on children, all covered by Alberta Healthcare, and then we provide free glasses to kids going into kindergarten.

Kathy: Because it’s so crucial that the kids can see the board.

Dr. Farah Lakhani: It is. What we found is 60% of children with literacy issues have an undiagnosed vision problem.

Kathy: In terms of Alberta Health, it will cover up to how old for kids?

Dr. Farah Lakhani: Up to 18 years old and it’s covered every year, once a year, until they turn 18.

Kathy: So no excuses to not take your kid.

Dr. Farah Lakhani: No excuses.

Kathy: Now is it ever too early to take your child to get his or her eyes checked? What age do you recommend?

Dr. Farah Lakhani: We usually recommend the first eye exam between the ages of six to nine months, then at least one between the ages of two to five, and then annually after they’ve started school.

Kathy: And this is for every kid you recommend this for?

Dr. Farah Lakhani: Absolutely. Unless if you notice something sooner, then earlier than six months, but otherwise yes between six to nine months.

Kathy: So what are some telltale signs if you should notice something odd about your baby? Anything that parents can be aware of?

Dr. Farah Lakhani: Sometimes a baby’s eye will be tearing excessively – it could be lacrimal problem. Sometimes you’ll notice right off the bat that an eye is turning in or out. Those are types of things that you’ll notice right away.

Kathy: So taking your kid to an eye doctor is pretty scary. It’s even scary for adults – I know that. The eye exam is actually quite different. We have some instruments here. You can explain what they are. So what are these?

Dr. Farah Lakhani: These ones here, these are lens racks and we use it with this. This is called a retinoscope. You know in adults, when we put you behind that big machine – it’s that “What’s better: one, two, one, two?” – In little babies, they don’t know, they can’t answer those types of questions. These lens racks and retinoscope are basically an objective way of finding out their prescription.

Kathy: Okay, and then what’s this fancy looking one?

Dr. Farah Lakhani: This is an ophthalmoscope. What we do with this is you know in adults we put you under the microscope, the big slit lamp to check the health of the eye? This in little kids helps us check behind the eye ball. We look through the lens for cataracts, we’re looking at the optic nerve, for glaucoma, the macula (which is the central vision), and then the arteries and veins. We’re really checking eye health with this one.

Kathy: And a lot of people might not know this, but the eyes are the window to diagnosing other issues in your body.

Dr. Farah Lakhani: They are. We’re often the first people to diagnose diabetes in adults, or high blood pressure – sometimes even high cholesterol. Getting an eye exam is definitely more than just being able to see 20/20.

Kathy: Of course, now just going back to these instruments, the checkup for your baby or your toddler is supposed to be pain-free just for parents out there who may be a little apprehensive.

Dr. Farah Lakhani: It’s 100% pain-free. The baby just sits on the parents lap the whole time and we just do our thing.

Kathy: Okay, thank you so much Dr. Lakhani for coming in this morning. A great insight into why it’s so important to make sure that your baby or your gets his or her eyes checked, especially because 1 in 4 have been diagnosed to have vision problems.

Dr. Farah Lakhani: Yes.

Kathy: Okay, great – thank you!