New Delhi: Increased digital screen time amid the COVID-19 pandemic has further increased the rising burden of preventable blindness in the country, said the All India Ophthalmology Society (AIOS). There is an immediate need to take preventive measures on a very urgent basis, the society cautioned.
“With changing lifestyle patterns and excessive usage of digital screens by people of all age brackets, there is an exponential increase in the number of patients suffering from mild to severe vision problems which are preventable or treatable,” said Dr Mahipal Singh Sachdev, President AIOS & Chairman, Centre For Sight Group of Hospitals.
The society also highlighted the importance of public awareness in tackling preventable blindness.
“Cataract is considered to be the no. 1 cause of blindness globally, which is preventable as well as treatable. Glaucoma cannot be cured completely but the damage caused on the optic nerve can be halted or slowed. With a huge burden of vision impairment in India, there is an immediate need to take preventive measures on a very urgent basis,” said Sachdev.
“There is a dire need to spread awareness among the masses about the importance of timely detection of vision problems and curb the instances of preventable blindness,” he added.
The second Thursday of October is celebrated as the World Sight Day annually which aims to spread awareness about avoidable blindness and vision impairment. The WHO theme this year is #HopeInSight which focuses on eliminating avoidable visual impairment.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that around 30 crore people suffer from partial vision impairment and blindness around the world. The developing countries are the epicentre of the partial vision blindness as 85% of the cases are concentrated in these countries.
The WHO estimated that by 2025, the number of people who suffer from partial vision loss will rise to 60 crore globally.
The Ophthalmology Society said that India is one of the major contributors to the crisis. However, most of the cases are still preventable. Despite this, the burden of blindness is not shrinking but rising steadily. India needs timely action and mobilization to deal with this critical situation, said Dr Namrata Sharma, honorary general secretary, AIOS.
“Spreading awareness among the masses about the vision problems is the only way towards prevention and early detection of eye diseases to ensure healthy vision. With revolutionary changes in the technology, it is easy to prevent loss of vision by tackling the major causes of blindness like glaucoma, cataract and diabetic retinopathy. Laser technology is minimally invasive and automated that it provides greater precision and accuracy with better outcomes and quick recovery. Timely detection and treatment is crucial because vision loss by glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy can be prevented but not cured. Early detection for both these diseases is the key to sight preservation so regular eye checkup is a must.” she added.
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