Materia Medica Malaysiana

May 5, 2008

Eye on children who don’t see properly

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:40 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: More children are having poor vision from long hours of television and reading.
Tun Hussein Onn National Eye Hospital consultant ophthalmologist Dr Vijaya Mohan said the hospital received about 2,000 cases of reflective error a year.
Most people with low vision were either very old or very young, she said, adding that her case load had increased by 15 per cent over the past 10 years.
She put this down to changes in lifestyle and quite a number of her patients were children.
“Of the total number of cases we receive, more than half involves children. We examine four to five children a day.”
Shortsightedness, a common manifestation of reflective error, was often found in children.
Dr Vijaya said another common eye condition among children was allergic conjunctivitis, of which the hospital received about 2,000 cases annually.
Allergic conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the membrane covering the white part of the eye due to an allergy that causes itchiness, redness and teary eyes.
“Children who have this condition may also have asthma and skin problems as their weakened immune system makes them susceptible to pollutants.”
She said the government should make eye checks compulsory for pre-schoolers to ascertain if they had reflective error, which could lead to a condition called “lazy eye”.
She added that most parents did not realise that the condition could be prevented from worsening if detected by age 10.
“They can actually improve the eyesight with early detection. But after age 10, even surgery can’t correct defective vision,” she said, adding that eye patching and exercise, however, could help improve lazy eyes.
Dr Vijaya said the hospital had been conducting a seminar since 1997 for kindergarten teachers to identify eye problems among children aged 2 to 6 so that the problems could be treated early.
Nearly 2,600 teachers have been trained to recognise children with squint eyes or those who like to rub their eyes.
There are more than 30 clinics in government hospitals to treat poor vision among children. The Tun Hussein Onn National Eye Hospital is the nation’s only eye-care hospital.

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