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Early diagnosis can prevent childhood blindness

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Staff Reporter
Childhood blindness, a public health issue in Bangladesh, is caused mainly because of parents’ lack of early detection and awareness about it, a workshop was told on Saturday.
Eye specialists at the function said childhood blindness contributes to poverty and socio-economic inequality.
Orbis International and Bangladesh Nari Sangbadik Kendra jointly organized the program aimed at creating media awareness about blindness among children and its impact.
Prof Enayet Hussain, Head of Pediatric Ophthalmology, NIO&H and Program Manager of National Eye Care, Dr Munir Ahmed, country director of Orbis International, ophthalmologist Dr Nahida Ferdousi and Parvin Sultana Jhuma, general secretary of Bangladesh Nari Sangbadik Kendra spoke at the program.
Without intervention, Prof Enayet said, blind or visually impaired children are likely to suffer poor education, fewer productive employment opportunities, social isolation and increased poverty.
Saving or restoring a child’s sight depends on awareness, early detection, the quality of the treatment and the follow-up care, he said.
Citing a WHO global estimate Prof Enayet said the prevalence of childhood blindness is 0.75 per 1,000 children in Bangladesh. But childhood blindness is yet to be integrated in the primary healthcare facility, he said.
He said although eye-care facility is available in all districts of the country, it is hard to find a pediatrics eye-care centre where medical care is only provided to infants and children.
Bangladesh Childhood Blindness Study-2002 shows around 51,200 children are blind, while about 20,480 cases are avoidable.
About 1.5 million children have refractive errors and around 153,600 children have poor vision problem, of which about 78,336 cases are avoidable, says the study.