May 24, 2013 | 01:00 PM (BD Time)
24 May, 2013 Friday
Saving the sights
Md. Sazedul Islam:
Nazim Uddin, 10, resident of Jhagrar Char village in Bhairob upazila of Kishoreganj, was born with bilateral cataract in his eyes. His parents came to know about the problem when he was around 1/2 years old. But they did not know about the cataract and its treatment.
They thought it's a simple white pupil and will disappear as he grows up. But their assumption proved wrong. As he was growing up, his visual power started reducing, which worried his father Azim Uddin.
He was taken to Islamia Eye Hospital (a partner hospital of CSF). In 2002, Nazam's sight restoring was held in Islamia eye hospital at free of cost. Now he can see very well and goes to school regularly. His parents are very happy for the change.
Though Nazim regained his visual power due to timely actions, many people turned blind mainly due to lack of awareness in our country.
Dr. MA Muhit, eye specialist and also honorary Executive Director of child Sight Foundation (CSF), said many people accept blindness as fate and most of them do not know that blindness in our country is largely treatable or preventable. This is why, raising awareness level is one of the key factors that can help reduce the intensity. By involving mass media more strongly, continually providing updated information to doctors and most importantly linking the key informants of the society like school teachers, imams, chairmen, local leaders to current programme can accelerate the process extensively to reach our goal. We have good national policy but it is not working properly. Programmes should be effective and sustainable.
He mentioned that over six million blind people need vision correction by spectacles and others means and approximately 150,000 are irreversible blind which need to be rehabilitated in the society.
About 285 million people are visually impaired worldwide. Among them, 39 million are blind and 246 million have low vision (severe or moderate visual impairment). In Bangladesh, 750,000 people are blind and, of them, 650,000 are due to cataract. Eighty percent of all visual impairment can be avoided or cured. Cataract and lack of Vitamin-A are two main reasons for visual impairment of our children, said CSF.
A national study by International Centre for Eye Health, UK and CSF revealed that around 40,000 children are blind in Bangladesh. Cataract (the condition where the lens of the eye gradually becomes hard and opaque) is the commonest cause of child blindness in Bangladesh (31 percent).
Other studies suggest that there are almost 10,000 children with some degree of visual impairment in every 1 million population. Most of them just need glasses to be able to see clearly.
In developing countries like Bangladesh, blindness carries a big stigma. Without any interventions, children who are blind face a high risk of death.
The facilities for child eye care in Bangladesh are inadequate. We are far behind to provide proper eye care due to extreme scarcity of doctors specialising in child eye care (paediatric ophthalmologists). There are only 7 paediatric ophthalmologists working in Bangladesh. Most of them live in the capital city and the rural people have no access to simple eye care services even for refraction correction. Training in quality eye surgery or eye care has become an urgent need, said CSF.
Dr. Muhit called upon the government to spread the eye care services up to district level, implement National Eye Care Plan, hold midterm review of Vision 2020 as part of implementation of National Eye Care Plan and appoint adequate number of trained eye physicians at every district.
According to CSF, top causes of visual impairment are refractive errors-43%, cataracts and-33% and glaucoma-2% while top causes of blindness are cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration, corneal opacity and diabetic retinopathy.
According to operational plan of Bangladesh Government, four reasons were cited as the main reasons of blindness. These are cataract, child blindness, defective visual power and low vision.
Whatever may be the causes, we should go for its remedy.
Experts said the best way to prevent blindness is to try to keep children well fed, clean, and healthy. We should clean the babies' eyelids at birth properly. When they get infected or have pus, clean them often with a clean wet cloth with clean water, and immediately consult with a physician, they said.
Care before and after birth can help avoid blindness from malnutrition, Vitamin A deficiency, conjunctivitis of the newborn and retinopathy of prematurity. Look after your child's sight - with vitamin-A rich foods, eye hygiene and safety. Early intervention is key to ensuring that children with eye problems have the best possible outcomes, said CSF.
Of the visually impaired children, 36% are visually impaired due to lack of Vitamin-A, which can easily be prevented if we become aware. It is possible to solve Vitamin-A related deficiency by including Vitamin A riches foods in daily food habit and feeding high doze Vitamin A capsule as a complement of diarrhoea and measles. All kinds of yellow fruits, green and red vegetables, butter and eggs contain a lot of Vitamin A, said health experts.
Pain on the eyes of the children may turn severe and the children may turn blind even they die due to lack of Vitamin A. The children from the age five months to five years should be provided high doze Vitamin A capsule every six months. It is better to breastfeed the children till the age 18 months.
Children must be given Vitamin-A riches foods after stopping the breastfeeding. Every child, aged between six months to nine months, should be vaccinated for measles. It can protect children from an epidemic.
Parents are advised that any eye problems of children must be checked by expert physicians and drugs should not be brought from any place except the places approved by eye department. Eyes of children should be examined before going to school and different visual problems should be treated.
People aged over 40 generally fail to read or face difficulty in sewing as they face trouble to see nearby things at this age. If eyes are examined and they use glasses then they can see well again.
Children generally like to play with sharp things, machinery and dangerous chemical, which are causes of dangerous injury. Parents should be cautious so that those things are kept away from the grip of children.
Injury may cause pain, bleeding, swelling and low vision for which treatment is needed. Virus or fungus may cause the infection. Doctors can give proper treatment.
Cleanliness can prevent eye infection. Children must wash their hands and mouth with tube-well water. When eyes start itching, then children should not use hands rather they should use clean clothes.
Identification is one of the important matters for cataract treatment of the children, because cataract operation can restore the visual power of the children. If it is delayed for cataract treatment, then there is an increasing risk of becoming completely blind.
Some traditional medicines or remedies cause serious damage or infection. Use of traditional medicines, even those that are not harmful for themselves, can lead to a delay in the child receiving proper treatment. Some eye drops can cause damage to the eye (e.g. steroid drops). Out of date eye drops can also cause problems. Parents should be cautious about the date of medicine and not use traditional remedies or medicines, nor use eye drops or ointment prescribed by someone other than a clinician.
CSF, a NGO working for the visually impaired people, said following measures can keep our eyes well:
Eyes of children should be cleaned
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