World Sight Day 2021: Love Your Eyes

Today is observed globally as World Sight Day under the theme “Love Your Eyes”. It is observed every second Thursday in October:

– To raise public awareness on visual impairment including blindness as a major international public health issue.

– To influence Governments/Ministers of Health to participate in and designate funds for national blindness prevention programmes.

– To educate target populations about blindness prevention.

– To celebrate achievements to date.

It is a joint initiative between the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).

According the World Health Organization, globally about 2.2 billion people have vision impairment which includes blindness, of which 1 billion can be prevented. Most of them are over 50 years old and live in low income countries.

Unoperated cataracts and uncorrected refractive errors which refers to the need for glasses are the leading causes of vision impairment. Other causes are age related macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, infectious diseases of the eye and trauma. In Dominica, the leading causes of preventable blindness are cataracts, refractive errors, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.

Visual impairment has long lasting effect on daily lives including personal activities, education, work and recreation opportunities. It also has economic consequences for countries and impacts on the Sustainable Development Goals.

Today learn how to love your eyes using the 4Ps good eye health guide: Prevent, Protect, Preserve and Prioritize.

 

Prevent:

Adopt a heathy lifestyle by eating healthy and adopting healthy habits.

1. Eating a balanced meal to maintain a healthy weight, avoiding obesity and preventing
diseases like diabetes mellitus.
2. Cutting down on smoking and drinking
3. Exercising
4. Maintain normal blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol
Protect

Protect your eyes from severe sunlight, workplace accidents and prolong exposure to digital
screens.

1. Use protective eyewear: UV 400 sunglasses to protect the eyes from harmful ultraviolet
rays in sunlight
2. Use protective eyewear recommended by occupational standards and guidelines if your
work exposes you to dangerous chemicals, radiation, flying particles and excessive heat
like welding.
3. Clean out your cosmetics to prevent eye allergies and dry eyes.
4. Work in a body friendly way while using computers that are now part of our daily lives.

This can cause headaches, dryness of eye, muscle strain which all contribute to computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain. To reduce these symptoms, blink frequently, take regular breaks: Every 20 minutes of working on the screen, stare away to something 20 feet away for 20 seconds, also known as the 20/20/20 rule. Good posture and good lighting to avoid glare on the monitor. Seat properly to reduce musculoskeletal strain.

 

Preserve your vision:

Eye examination schedule:

1. If you don’t have eye complaints:
i. School vision screening at ages 5 and 11
ii. 20-39 every 5 years,
iii. 40-54 every 2-4 years,
iv. 55-64 every 1-3 years,
v. 65 and over every year

2. Annual eye checkups:
i. Family history of glaucoma
ii. Medical history of diabetes and hypertension
iii. Chronic smoking
iv. High myopia or near sightedness

3. Emergency eye examination is needed for the following dangerous symptoms or red
flags:
i. Seeing flashes
ii. Sudden blurring or loss of vision
iii. Eye redness
iv. Eye pain,
v. Coloured rings or halos around lights
vi. Eye trauma

 

Prioritize:

Ensure that eye examination are part of your routine medical examination. Educate your family,
loved ones, and the community regarding the importance of eyes and vision.

In Dominica there are much that have been achieved:

– Eye care is integrated in Primary Health Care providing universal coverage
– School health programme includes vision screening for 5 and 11 year olds
– National Diabetic retinopathy Screening and Treatment programme from 2005
– Increase human resources from 1 to 3 ophthalmologists in the public sector
– Newly constructed eye clinic with increased examination rooms and an operating theatre
– Increased operating time from 1 day a week to 5 days a week
– Eye medications and surgeries free of charge for those 18 and younger and 60 and older
– Training of medical officers and nurses for telehealth coverage for eye emergencies
– Training of Allied eye care professionals

 

Research in Dominica:

1. Phenotypic Characterization of La Plaine Retinal Degeneration, a significant cause of irreversible blindness in communities on the east coast of Dominica: Posted by Peter J. Kertes, Rajeev Hemant Muni, Hazel Shillingford-Ricketts, Leslie Mackeen and Elise Heon

2. Survey of vision and BMI/Body Mass Index of over 10,000 school children in Dominica. Glasses were provided free to all children needing glasses. Analysis of data is ongoing.

3. Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty research revealed that this treatment can play a significant role in preventing glaucoma vision loss and blindness in people of African descent living in resource-limited regions. Tony Realini, Hazel Shillingford-Ricketts, Darra Burt, Goundappa K Balasubramani

4. Diabetic Retinopathy Screening in a mobile clinic setting using Artificial Intelligence with retinal imaging : A Diagnostic Accuracy Study in Dominica: Ongoing.

Urgent needs are updating and replacement of non-functional equipment and introducing new
services for the eye clinic and operating room. Uninterrupted supplies of consumables.

A properly and timely equipped eye clinic will increase eye services to the people of Dominica. It will also facilitate visiting ophthalmology sub-specialist to provide consultation and treatment.

This will reduce on number of patients seeking eye care overseas.

World Sight Day requires the action of everyone and government to reduce preventable vision impairment and blindness.

 

“LOVE YOUR EYES”

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