Follow-ups poor after eye testing in B'lore schools

About 30 per cent of students do not come for further check-ups


 According to ophthalmologists in the City, one of the common eye problems in children is refractive errors.

Dr R Sandhya, professor of Ophthalmology, M S Ramaiah Hospital and doing her fellowship at Minto Ophthalmic Hospital, said that though Minto Hospital conducts routine eye screening camps in Bangalore and Ramanagar, less than five per cent of the children come  back for treatment.

Even Dr G Venkatasubramaniam of Rangalakshmi Nethralaya, Yelahanka, said that out of the six private schools, where he has carried out eye screening camps in the last six months, less than five out of 20 kids finally turned up. “The parents feel that the screening process is diluted to a large extent. In fact, some of the school principals told me that the parents were unhappy about the school authorities holding the eye screening sessions saying they would take their children to a doctor if there was a need,” he said.

To treat students from poor background, Sankara Eye Care Institutions unfurled its ‘Nanna Kannu’ project in June, this year. Dr Kaushik Mural, Director of the project, explained, “We screen school children and those with vision defects are given a red card with information about the hospital. We also give the list of students with eye problem to the headmaster and our field workers also follow-up on the cases.” About 5,200 school students have be tested under the project till September.

In spite of all these efforts, 30 per cent of students drop out and do not come for further check-ups. The hospital has worked at Varthur block and has screened six schools in Ulsoor. It is now looking at organising eye camps at K R Puram block with other partner organisations soon.

Dr R V Halakatti, Joint Director, Ophthalmology and in-charge of the National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB), stated that they conducted regular (once in six months) follow-ups for refractive errors. “Those children with vision problems are referred to nearby hospitals. However, there is a 10 per cent drop out incidence after all this,” he said. He further pointed that they completed about 60 per cent (1,26,387 students) of this year’s target of treating 2.10 lakh students by July itself.

New eye care facility for premature babies

The State Ophthalmology department, which handles National Programme to Control Blindness, will introduce tele-ophthalmology in the Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) programme for the first time in the country.

ROP is an eye disease that causes scarring of the retina and retinal detachment and can eventually lead to blindness.

As a pilot programme, it will be introduced in six districts - Gulbarga, Raichur, Koppal, Bagalkot, Bidar and Bijapur. The health department, with the help of Narayana Nethralaya, will train one ophthalmologist and one refractionist each from the six district in batches. The first batch from Raichur completed their training on October 9.

“The whole training process will finish by January, 2010. The ophthalmologists and refractionists will first check the premature babies and if they think there is a problem, they will relay the pictures of the baby's eyes to Narayana Nethralaya for further help,” said Dr R V Halakatti, Joint Director, Ophthalmology. He further stated that two per cent of all the births that take place in the State are premature, out of this 47 per cent of the babies suffered from ROP.

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