DHA ophthalmologists discuss eye care to mark World Sight Day

WAM DUBAI, 4th October, 2013 (WAM)–Ophthalmologists from the Dubai Health Authority( DHA), have discussed several aspects of eye care to mark World Sight Day 2013, which falls on the 10th of October this year.

Discussing the importance of eye care from a young age, Dr Manal Taryam, Ophthalmologist at DHA and CEO of Noor Dubai Foundation, said: “It’s important for parents to be aware that the first eye screening after the one at birth should take place between the age of three to five years, the next one should be between 10 to 12 years, these are the two main screenings recommended for children. If any defects are spotted, doctors will advise regular follow-ups.” Taryam added: “Research shows that the chances of developing short-sightedness increases in children who do not keep sufficient distance between their eyes and a book, tablet PCs and television. In fact, dry eyes is an emerging problem in children who excessively use tablets and other such gadgets.” She added that it is recommended that children play in open areas like outdoor or indoor playgrounds that are wide since wide spaces are known to aid in the development of healthy vision.

In terms of protection against eye injury, she said: “Do not give your kids toy guns that shoot bullets as it can injure their eyes and do not buy them toys with fireworks.” Dr Abdulla Naqi, Consultant, Cataract and Glaucoma at Dubai Hospital, provided an overview of diseases such as cataract and diabetes that can cause blindness.

He said: “Cataract is the major cause of reversible blindness in the UAE and worldwide, and diabetes is the number one cause of irreversible blindness in the UAE. The main reason for this is that patients do not take care of their sugar early on and/or miss follow-ups with their doctors.” Dr Taryam said: ” In a population where on an average one in five people are diabetics, the prevalence of diabetic complications is high. However, over the last few years, we have seen a dramatic improvement in the sugar levels of patients. This is because of an increase in awareness levels. The outcome is a direct decline in blindness cases due to diabetes.” Taryam said that several of her patients who had high blood sugar levels such as HBAIC( three month sugar average) of 13, have been referred to diabetologists and diabetes educators, many have returned back with sustained HBAIC level of seven. “There is a direct link between patient education and improved patient outcomes. When diabetics control their sugar levels, it makes the lives of ophthalmologists easier and for the patient it means that he is not only protecting his eye but other parts of his body such as his liver, kidney, heart etc. Diabetes is a systemic disease that affects every part of the body and lifestyle modification is the only solution.” She urged family members of diabetics to educate themselves about the disease and its complications so that they can support diabetics patients in their family.

Taryam highlighted that diabetes eye disease is painless and in the early stages it is a silent disease. She said: ” That’s why yearly diabetes eye-checks are essential.” She also added that patients with diabetes retinopathy should visit a retina specialist and not a general ophthalmologist if they want to treat their diabetes retinopathy accurately. “Nowadays there are many injections available to treat early stages of diabetes retinopathy, however, it is important to know which one and what dose to administer to achieve the optimal results. Retina specialists are the experts in this field and therefore patients should ensure they seek the right option and treatment.” In terms of cataract, Naqi said that while most cataracts are age-related, there are some conditions that may lead to cataract. He said: “Secondary cataract may develop in people who have general health problems such as diabetes. Cataracts are also linked to long term steroid use. If people want to delay the development of cataract, they should protect their eyes from sunlight, avoid smoking and eat a healthy diet.” WAM/MN