Health: (Majority of total blind population was once treatable)


RAWALPINDI: Al-Shifa Trust Eye Hospital on Tuesday said Pakistan is lagging behind in the prevention of blindness due to host of reasons as 85 percent of the total blind population could have been treated by timely intervention.

Ten percent school going children have vision related issues while majority remains unaware of it for years which create serious problems for them, their families and the society in the long run, said President of Al-Shifa Trust Eye Hospital Lt. Gen(r) Hamid Javaid.

Talking to a group of journalists, he said that the grim situation calls for strengthening advocacy to increase social, financial and technical commitment to address avoidable blindness and visual impairment.

The trust provides medical assistance to 2.5 lakh people annually through free eye camps, around 3 lakh are treated in hospitals while 1.5 lakh children are screened and treated in schools.

But, he said, this is not enough, more resources must be allocated to enable government and private organisations to strive effectively for the noble cause as every child deserves to be screened once a year after initial tests.

Lt. Gen Hamid Javaid said that the trust provides free treatment worth Rs 800 million annually while a plan has been devised to raise resources to assist more people by increasing number of paying people without compromising treatment quality and quantity of the people availing free health services.

To a question, he said that as many as 15 percent of the children visiting eye-screening camps in different schools have been diagnosed with a problem.

The eye-screening camps set up at different schools in Rawalpindi division have focused on serious eye problems such as refractive errors and Amblyopia (failure of one eye to develop vision) among schoolchildren between the ages of 10 to 12.

Besides allergies, doctors also detected abnormalities of muscle balance and refractive errors in children. “Out of every 100 children, 15 to 20 had eye allergies besides some cases of refractive errors, Amblyopia, allergic conjunctivitis or squints. And this is a very high ratio in the schools alone” he added.