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Eye health care

Ana Madigibuli
Tuesday, June 17, 2014

THE last eye care survey conducted in 2009 showed the prevalence of blindness in adults over the age of 40 years to be 2.6 per cent.

International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness Pacific co-ordinator Dr Ana Cama highlighted this during the Pacific Regional Eye Health Conference in Suva yesterday.

Dr Cama said the major causes of blindness for people within that age group were cataracts, uncorrected refractive errors and diabetic retinopathy.

"For causes of blindness on children, we are looking more on diseases that they inherit such as diseases that can affect the back of the eye, some of them are not treatable," Dr Cama said.

"For adults, the causes are more avoidable so it can be treated. Like for cataracts for example, there is a simple surgery that is available in all the divisional hospitals and private hospitals too."

She said for uncorrected refractive errors, simple spectacles could be a solution.

"Spectacles are not given free and people need to buy them. So if they are able to get good spectacles, their visions should clear up or improve.

"For diabetics who have poor visions, they need to control their sugar intake. If they can control their sugar, the onset vision impairment is delayed. So instead of getting it after five years, they might get it after 15 years, so it can be prevented for some time.

She said for diabetics, doctors or specialists encouraged them to go for an eye exam because vision loss from diabetes was difficult to recover from once it reached a certain stage.

She added accessibility to proper eye health care was a challenge people living in the outer islands also faced.

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