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Monsoon causing eye diseases among children: Al-Shifa Trust

Lahore : Eye infections become very common during the season of monsoon especially hitting children and resulting in serious problems due to lack of healthcare facilities and low level of awareness, a leading eye care professional said.

Parents and teachers should keep an eye on signs of vision problems among kids for timely treatment as healthy eyes are a critical part of the development of kids, said Chief of medical services at Al- Shifa Eye Trust Dr Wajid Ali Khan while briefing the students at Institute of Ophthalmology.

He said that monsoons bring with them an army of infections causing conjunctivitis, corneal ulcer, redness, swelling, hordeolum, and dry eyes etc. which are not noticed in the beginning and by the time people visit doctors for symptoms of diseases, it is often too late, he added.

Vision screening should be part of child’s routine check-ups even if the problems aren’t noted, he said, adding that comprehensive eye examination by a professional should not be avoided.

He said that most of the time, vision problems aren’t obvious, and the best way to catch issues early is through vision screening.

“I will strongly recommend screening at school level that can prevent blindness,” said Dr Wajid Ali Khan. He said that there were many eye conditions and diseases that can affect a child’s vision, therefore, every new-born should be checked thoroughly at the age of 14 days and treated immediately in case of any problem.

Any delay can result in permanent blindness as one of the main problems in treating children was non-availability of trained doctors.

“Therefore, we have embarked upon a programme to train doctors and paramedics at home while providing the facility to doctors from Afghanistan, Egypt and Bangladesh,” he added.

Pakistan has a tremendous burden of blindness in the country. To overcome this shortage Al Shifa has established Pakistan Institute of Ophthalmology for the training of postgraduate eye specialists and other support staff.

So far Al Shifa has trained over 350 postgraduate doctors in diploma and fellowships which is recognised by the Quaid-i-Azam University and College of Physicians and Surgeon. These doctors are not only serving in Al-Shifa hospitals but also throughout the country and abroad. Presently almost every district of Pakistan has an ophthalmologist trained by Al Shifa.

Around 0.9 percent population (two million) is blind, most of them from preventable or curable blindness. To meet this challenge and to provide these blind patients with a chance to become a useful member of the society, trained human resource and infrastructure is required.

On average, we have been treating 250 children per day, while we have set a target of 500 children per day for the next year.

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