Hyderabad, 17th November, 2019: As part of the Children’s Eye Care Week, being hosted by the L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), a Children’s Eye Care Awareness Walk was flagged of by Pediatric Patient Gyan Kumar, on Sunday at LV Prasad Eye Institute, Banjara Hills. Also present on the occasion were Dr Ramesh Kekunnaya, Head, Child Sight Institute; Dr Uppal Gandhi, Consultant, Child Sight Institute and Dr Akshay Badakere, Consultant, Child Sight Institute, LVPEI. Pediatric patients, children, doctors and volunteers joined the awareness walk. LV Prasad Eye Institute is hosting ‘Children’s Eye Care Week’ with the theme ‘Cataract in Children’, from November 11 to 17, 2019, to sensitize public regarding children’s eye health and the available remedies.
Of the 2.2 billion people living with vision impairment or blindness, over one billion cases could have been prevented or are yet to be addressed. These billion people are not getting the care they need according to the first World report on vision issued by the World Health Organization (WHO). Initial treatment of childhood cataract is important to enhance vision in life and to minimize amblyopia (lazy eye development). The growing level of cataract in children has become a matter of concern for the specialists. In India, studies have shown that cataract happens in one to four babies per 10,000 births. The normal lens in the eyes are transparent and allows light to go into the eye without any difficulty. In case of cataract this normal “crystalline” lens becomes opaque, either completely or partly.
“When a cataract is present since birth, it is called a congenital cataract. A cataract that is developed after 12 months of birth is called developmental cataract and it could be present in one or both the eyes. It can be hereditary or may occur sporadically or because of other underlying general diseases. In 27% of cases, it occurs because of some other defects in the eye, whereas in 22% of the cases it occurs because of other underlying health problems in children (systemic abnormalities). As per studies, in 41% of cases in children, cataract is diagnosed through routine screenings and hence detailed annual eye examination even for children is highly recommended. Whitish appearance in the eye (Leukocoria), squint and involuntary shaking of the eyeballs are the main symptoms of cataract in children,” said Dr Uppal Gandhi, Consultant, Child Sight Institute at L V Prasad Eye Institute.
“Today we are celebrating children’s eye care week through a walk, we do this every year during this week to coincide with the Children’s day. During the entire week various activities are done to create awareness about eye problems in children amongst the public. There are many children with visual impairment and even blindness. Just in India we have 4 to 5 lakh children who are blind even today. Almost 30% of these are because of cataract. Usually people think cataract is a disease of adults, it can also happen in very young, though it’s not that common, usually the prevalence is, 1 out of 10000 children born, have cataract. The theme of today’s walk is ‘Congenital cataract’ and we are creating public awareness that this also needs treatment, because if it’s detected very early, we can treat the disease. To know how we can detect disease is very important. When a picture is taken of the kid through cell phone or camera and if you see a white reflex in the eye, that could be because of cataract or any other eye diseases like eye cancer, glaucoma and others. Any parent noticing such white reflex in the child’s eye should take the child to an Ophthalmologist. Cataract is one of the most important causes of avoidable visual disability in children. The developing visual system requires appropriate visual stimulus during formative years and early childhood. If affected with cataract (bilateral or unilateral) or weakening of eyes (amblyopia or lazy eyes) the child’s educational and psychosocial advancement may be affected,” said Dr Ramesh Kekunnaya, Head, Child Sight Institute at L V Prasad Eye Institute.
Data from our country indicate that 50% of children with cataract present for surgery late. The reasons for delayed recognition and treatment is mainly due to lack of knowledge amongst parents and limited accessibility to specialist centres. This walk is mainly to inform and involve the community by creating awareness about the eye disorder.