Childhood blindness is a growing menace and immediate measures have to be taken to tackle it.
Prof Swapan Samanta, eye department, Burdwan Medical College and Bijoy Chand Mohatab Hospital, West Bengal said that “We are creating awareness through campaigns to protect the eyes of children and prevent blindness and a state level Continuous Medical Education (CME) has been organised on childhood blindness.”
Dr Subhadra Jalili, Director, Newborn Eye Health Alliance (NEHA) informed that the eyes of the babies should be checked during the time of birth to eliminate the risk of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP).
According to Dr Ragini Parekh, Prof and HOD, ophthalmology department, Sir JJ Group of Hospitals, childhood blindness remains a major problem in India. There are a lot of causes of preventable childhood blindness such as are vitamin A deficiency, measles and corneal ulceration, herpes simplex keratitis, corneal scarring, congenital cataract, childhood glaucoma and rglaucoma (ROP).
She added, “Vitamin A deficiency is the common cause of blindness in children. Symptoms of vitamin A deficiency are conjunctival xerosis, bitot’s spots, corneal xerosis and so on. But the mother is not aware that the child has a problem. So, it is important to treat the causes.”
Parikshit Gogate, Paediatric Ophthalmologist, Dr Gogate’s eye clinic, Pune said that, ” In the last eight years we have gone to all the deaf mute schools where 35 to 30 per cent children have eye problems.”
Dr Satanshu Mathur who works as a medical director and consultant with the Hi-Tech Eye Institute and Laser Centre, Uttarakhand, said that,” Parents should regularly take their kids for an eye check-up, maintain a healthy lifestyle and ensure that their kids have a healthy and balanced diet.”
However, doctors stressed that if the mother is kept healthy during pregnancy, the causes can be preventable. Screening of eyes should be done and parents should be alert and see to it that their child is treated at the right time.