25% of school­child­ren in city are short- sighted, finds study

EYE SCREEN­ING Doc­tors say spend­ing more time in­doors with lap­tops, cell phones and video games could be the cause

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - NAVI MUMBAI - Tas­neem Kausar ht­for­nav­i­mum­bai@ hin­dus­tan­times. com

SAN­PADA: An eye- screen­ing ini­tia­tive called Nanhe Nayan un d e r t a ke n by Adva nc e d Eye Hos­pi­tal and In­sti­tute, San­pada, screened around 25,000 chil­dren across Navi Mum­bai schools over the past year.

The re­sults show a steep rise in the num­ber of chil­dren with less than op­ti­mum vi­sion. Around 25% of the 25,000 chil­dren screened were di­ag­nosed to have im­paired vi­sion (<6/12) com­pared to the nor­mal preva­lence rates of 5- 8% over the past decade. The ma­jor rea­son for im­paired vi­sion in this pop­u­la­tion was un­cor­rected re­frac­tive er­rors, more com­monly known as my­opia.

My­opia, also called short­sight­ed­ness, is rapidly in­creas­ing across the world and Navi Mum­bai is no e xc ep t i o n . Ac­cord­ing to the new pro­jec­tions re­cently re­leased from the Brien Holden Vi si o n In­sti­tute in Aus­tralia, nearly half of world pop­u­la­tion will be my­opic in the next 35 years.

Dr Van­dana Jain, di­rec­tor of AEHI and cornea, cataract and lasik sur­geon, said, “The ad­vance­ment in the world of elec­tron­ics with the younger gen­er­a­tion spend­ing more time in­doors with lap­tops, mo­bile phones and video games could be cited as a prob­a­ble cause for this steep rise over the past decade.”

“In­ces­sant use of near vi­sion for hours con­trib­utes in some way to the ris­ing in­ci­dence of my­opia. Spend­ing 14 hours or more time out­doors a week where eye mus­cles are re­laxed and can fo­cus on dis­tant ob­jects can re­duce my­opia by up to one-third, ac­cord­ing to find­ings from the In­ter­na­tional So­ci­ety f or Eye Re­search. We re­ally need to en­cour­age chil­dren to spend more time out­doors and less time with gad­gets,” Jain said.

Dr Prachi Agashe, pae­di­atric oph­thal­mol­o­gist, said, “Un­cor­rected re­frac­tive er­rors such as my­opia can have a neg­a­tive im­pact on the child’s life and have also been cited as im­por­tant causes for headaches, poor scholas­tic per­form- ance and re­duced self- es­teem. Also, if th­ese er­rors are not cor­rected at the right age, it leads to per­ma­nent im­pair­ment of vi­sion, which can­not be rec­ti­fied in adult­hood, thereby also lim­it­ing ca­reer op­tions.”

One of the very im­por­tant things is to drive home the mes­sage that ev­ery child should get an eye check- up done pe­ri­od­i­cally.

This al­lows timely de­tec­tion of the prob­lem and im­ple­men­ta­tion of proper cor­rec­tive mea­sures.

Jain said, “The in­creas­ing in­ci­dence of my­opia is go­ing to put a lot of eye care and fi­nan­cial bur­den on the govern­ment and the pri­vate sec­tor.”

“As of now in Navi Mum­bai, we are get­ting lot of young adults with high my­opia com­ing for lasik vi­sion cor­rec­tion surgery to get the glasses re­moved. While 80% of th­ese are fit for lasik, oth­ers have to wear glasses or con­tact lenses for the rest of their life,” he added.

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