Concerns raised over child eyesight problems
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An ophthalmologist has expressed concern about the growing number of school-age children with sight problems, saying early detection can help children regain their normal vision.
“Nowadays, we see a lot more school-age children wearing glasses due to disorders. If not detected immediately, the refractive disorder can lead to amblyopia, lazy eye or even to them becoming cross-eyed, which could potentially affect their future career,” Dian Estu Yulia of the University of Indonesia (UI) told a workshop held to celebrate 2012 World Sight Day, which falls on Oct.11.
Studies show that genetics and certain behaviors — such as watching TV up close — are the two leading factors in causing refractive disorders that include myopia (nearsightedness), hypermetropia (farsightedness), astigmatism or presbyopia (aging vision).
Dian said refractive disorder, a blurred vision problem caused by an improper focus of lights on the retina, is actually a correctable eye problem. “With early detection and prompt treatment, we can protect children with refractive disorders from amblyopia or other poor vision problems,” she said, adding that using proper eyeglasses might correct a child with amblyopia.
Health Ministry data shows that refractive disorder, a chronic eye problem aside from cataracts, glaucoma and xeroftalmia, is the most common cause of sight problems and blindness.
The number of people with refractive disorder accounts for 22 percent of total Indonesian population. Fifteen percent of these affected patients are school-age children.
“Refractive disorder can affect people from all age groups. But we have particular concerns about school-age children with the disorder,” the Health Ministry’s director for basic health management efforts Dedi Kuswenda said.
Suffering from refractive disorder, children often experienced difficulties in learning, possibly lowering their capacity to expand their knowledge and skills, he added.
A screening on eye and sight health conducted in Tangerang regency in 2009 revealed that the number of people with refractive disorders accounted for 17.4 percent of that regency’s population.
Dian, an ophthalmologist with UI’s school of medicine, said refractive disorders were found among school-age children because they started to complain to their parents about difficulties in reading letters and the blackboard.
“Many parents seek help to ophthalmologists after they find that their children can’t read writing on the blackboard; or that their children cannot watch television unless they sit close to the TV,” she said.