Muscat – World Sight Day is an annual day of awareness held on the second Thursday of October to focus global attention on vision impairment, including blindness. This year it takes place on October 14 (today) under the theme ‘Love Your Eyes’.
According to data, globally, at least 1bn people have near or distance vision impairment that could be prevented or is yet to be addressed.
“There are many conditions which can cause temporary or permanent blindness, and diabetic retinopathy is a major one,” says Dr Mukund R Nayak, senior ophthalmologist at Sagar Polyclinic.
“If someone has diabetes for ten or 15 years, the retina of the eye will get affected. So it is advised to go for a check-up of the eyes soon after diabetic diagnosis and do the same every year to prevent partial or full blindness.”
Dr Nayak warns that continuously staring at a screen can also lead to eye problems.
“Also, less exposure to sunlight, which gives vitamin D, can lead to the problem increasing especially during COVID-19 pandemic as many people are confined to their houses. Also lack of physical activities could be a reason for eye problems.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), vision impairment affects people of all ages, with the majority being over the age of 50.
‘Vision impairment and blindness can have major and long-lasting effects on all aspects of life, including daily personal activities, interacting with the community, school and work opportunities and the ability to access public services,’ WHO said in a statement.
It added that unoperated cataract and uncorrected refractive error are the leading causes of vision impairment. Other causes such as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, infectious diseases of the eye, and trauma, however, cannot be ignored and need to be addressed.
Abdulsalam Churigar, optometrist at Al Awas Optical, said there is need for eye check-ups for all those above 40. “Those who wear glasses too need to go for check-ups every six months. This is because the power of glasses change every now and then and using the wrong power may damage eyes further,” he said.
He added that even healthy people but with regular headache need to go for eye check-up. “Also, children need to be monitored, especially those with squinting eyes. Those who struggle to look at the board while at school need to see the ophthalmologist as soon as possible,” Churigar said.
Recently at the 74th World Health Assembly, member states adopted two new global targets for eye care by 2030 – a 40 per cent increase in effective coverage of refractive errors and a 30 per cent increase in effective coverage of cataract surgery.
These targets will play a key role in not only increasing global eye care coverage in the future but also in delivering quality services.