Hyderabad, November , 2018: The theme this year for Children’s Eye Care Week at L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) is ‘Less screen time, more outdoor activities for better child eye health’. As part of Children’s Eye Care Week (November 11–16), LVPEI is organizing several activities to raise awareness on children’s eye health.
Children’s Eye Care Week at L V Prasad Eye Institute
Experts are concerned about growing levels of short-sightedness (Myopia) in children and are of the view that it is rampant due to lack of natural light. As children are hooked to their screens for longer hours, there is increasing concern about potential harm to their visual development. “With the increase in the prevalence of myopia in the last few decades and being associated with sight threatening ocular diseases in later life, myopia has become an important global health problem. It is estimated that about half of the entire world’s population (5 billion) will be affected by myopia by the year 2050,” said Dr Ramesh Kekunnaya, Head – Child Sight Institute, L V Prasad Eye Institute. Highlighting the magnitude of the problem, he said there are 12.3 lakh blind children in the world and India alone is home for 25% of these with 3 lakh blind children. 50% of the childhood visual impairment is due to refractive error and just a pair of eye glasses is all it needs, other 30% suffering from glaucoma, opacity or eye cancer can be treated through a surgery and they too will regain eyesight. The balance 5-10% children can be helped through rehabilitation and several such children have grown up to take on successful careers.
Dr Subhadra Jalali, Director – Retina Institute & Newborn Eye Health Alliance (NEHA), L V Prasad Eye Institute, said, lack of eye screening in new born babies in our country is leading to childhood eye problems not being detected. Especially the prematurely born babies suffer from a eye ailment called Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP). Since the external part of the new born looks normal, this problem goes undetected. However the internal eye is under developed. ROP needs to be treated within 30 days and the child will have a normal eyesight or else there is no cure for it. November 17th is observed as the World Prematurity day every year and as part of this it is essential to emphasise on ROP along with other ailments typical to premature babies.
To sensitize the public regarding children’s eye health, LVPEI is organizing ‘Children’s Eye Care Week Walk’ on Sunday, November 11. Actor Mahie Gill, LVPEI’s ‘Ambassador for the Children’s Eye Care Week 2018’ will be participating in the Awareness Walk.
Continuous usage of smart phones also causes eyestrain and eyesight related problems in children. Excessive electronic display device usage might lead to symptoms of headache, eyestrain, physical discomfort and irritability. Most computer users experience digital eyestrain and kids are no different from adults when it comes to digital eyestrain. They can experience dry eye, eye strain, headaches, and blurry vision, too.
Doctors suggest that people adequately blink when undergoing prolonged work on screens. Avoid keeping the device close to eyes. Children should spend less time indoors and more time outdoors. Healthy diets rich in carotenoids such as carrots, spinach, pumpkins and green leafy vegetables and adequate sleep is very beneficial for overall health, especially eye health of children and adolescents. Regular eye check-up is strongly recommended.
To address the eye problems of children with special needs, the vision rehabilitation team at L V Prasad Eye Institute has commenced a dedicated clinic. “With the improvement in medical technologies related to perinatal and neonatal care, premature children and those with neurological insults have increasing survival rates and hence the number of children with special needs is in rise since the recent past. Identifying this concern, the vision rehabilitation team at L V Prasad eye Institute has commenced a dedicated clinic for these individuals,” said Dr Beula Christy, Head – Institute for Vision Rehabilitation, L V Prasad Eye Institute.
This unique initiative is funded by Renew Sys India Pvt. Ltd., in collaboration with Mission for Vision. The special needs vision clinic will be officially inaugurated by Mr. Avinash Hiranandani, the managing director of Renew Sys India, and Dr Gullapalli N Rao, Founder-Chair, L V Prasad Eye Institute on November 14 at L V Prasad Eye Institute. This project aims to provide comprehensive eye care services for children as well as for adults with special needs by assessing their visual needs with special assessment tools, providing them appropriate spectacle prescription, low vision devices and therapies to maximize their functional ability. A multidisciplinary team consisting of optometrist, rehabilitation specialist, vision therapist, physiotherapist, speech therapist, special educator etc will be part of the clinical assessment and management. This project will be a part of the activities undertaken by the Institute for Vision Rehabilitation at L V Prasad Eye institute, Hyderabad.
According to Dr Gullapalli N Rao, Founder and Chair, LV Prasad Eye Institute, “Providing vision rehabilitation services to those with irreversible blindness and low vision is an integral part of our comprehensive eye care. Since the establishment of our institute, through our various rehabilitation interventions we have touched upon over 1,75,000 lives of persons with low vision and blindness, of whom 41,482 are children. Through this collaborative initiative, we aim to create a larger impact to the children, parents and caregivers.”
LVPEI will be completing 20 years of the ROP blindness prevention program in the Twin Cities and will be celebrating this milestone on November 17, World Prematurity Day.The ROP blindness control program pioneered by LVPEI in the twin cities of Hyderabad-Secunderabad, is unique because this is the only city that has had a robust widespread program that is now carried out by numerous hospitals and doctors throughout the city covering most of the newborn care units. “LVPEI is also one of the world’s first centres to have a dedicated one-month regular ROP training program to take care of premature babies’ eyes and vision, and has trained more than 350 specialists across the world besides handling more than 20,000 babies at its Hyderabad Centre. The program is now successfully running at not only the tertiary centres in Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam and Bhubaneswar but is also now being extended to smaller towns such as Adilabad. The Institute is also one of the first eye hospitals in the country to have its own dedicated premature baby care unit with dedicated trained staff for postoperative care,” said Dr Subhadra Jalali, Director – Retina Institute & Newborn Eye Health Alliance (NEHA), and Director – Quality, L V Prasad Eye Institute.