A man undergoing eye tests.
DOHA: Marking World Sight Day, Hamad Medical Corporation has urged people to undergo eye examinations to prevent avoidable blindness as 80 percent of all vision impairments are preventable.
“Although the number of patients suffering from blindness caused by infections has decreased significantly during the past 20 years, 285 million patients still suffer from vision impairment worldwide. Out of these, 39 million are completely blind,” says Dr Deena Safwan Zeedan, Resident Ophthalmologist at HMC.
World Sight Day is an annual awareness event that takes place on the second Thursday of October.
“Many people associate vision impairment with old age, but there are over 19 million blind children all over the world, and many of these cases could have been prevented through regular checkups,” says Dr Zeedan. HMC provides a screening programme for all infants born at Women’s Hospital and advises that children have follow-up screenings at age six months, age three, during preschool and a yearly screening once in school. Dr Zeedan says that awareness is the first step to preventing avoidable vision impairment.
“Overall, 80 percent of all vision impairment is preventable, and our role is to educate people about that. Our department regularly sends teams to schools to educate students about eye health.”
According to Dr Zeedan, the most common vision impairment problems seen in Qatar include glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy. She says awareness, prevention and regular check-ups are the best options for people with a high risk of vision impairment, such as individuals living with diabetes.
“When it comes to preserving your vision, early detection is the solution. Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most common vision impairments worldwide and in the Middle East statistics show that the percent of patients suffering from diabetic retinopathy is likely to increase from 20 percent to 25 percent. This disease can lead to blindness, but it is preventable if diabetic patients follow a healthy lifestyle and control their blood sugar levels,” says Dr Zeedan.
HMC offers outpatient and emergency services at Hamad General Hospital and ophthalmology surgeries are performed at Rumailah Hospital’s inpatient department. General and specialised clinics are in Al Khor, Al Wakra and The Cuban Hospitals.