Between 2004 and 2006, a total of 294,731 cases of eye disease were reported in Dubai alone, according to the Dubai Health Authority.
Global trends show ever-increasing incidences of preventable blindness and visual impairments.
The Vision Centre’s Dr Mohammed Faizeen Bhyat, along with his team, are attempting to battle these statistics in Dubai through their mobile eye clinic initiative called ‘20/20 Vision By 2020’.
“We have made it our aim to give perfect 20/20 vision to all living in the UAE by the year to coincide with the Expo 2020,” he said.
Along with others, Dr Bhyat began the scheme in South Africa 20 years ago and brought it to the UAE four years ago. Prior to Ramadan, the group would visit various companies around the Emirates to provide free screenings to their employees.
However, this Ramadan, the group is targeting labour camps in Dubai.
Dr Bhyat said: “We not only screen but also give the workers in labour camps free glasses.” For special lenses, they aim to charge Dh50 to Dh100 per pair of spectacles.
Their mobile clinic is a Roads and Transport Authority-sponsored (RTA) bus that is modified to fit ophthalmology equipment. Since July 1, the bus has been visiting labour camps in Jebel Ali and later, Al Qouz, Dubai International City, and other sites. The team looks to screen 250 workers per day in the month, so projecting an estimate of 7,500 workers by the end of Ramadan.
The men will be tested for cases of low vision and blindness due to curable diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, diabetes and refractive error.
With his background treating those who carry out work in such poor conditions, Dr Bhyat said: “Many have poor vision due to refractive error and all that is needed is a pair of glasses, which many could never afford.”
The goodwill from this program will not be limited to only Ramadan, as the labourer’s files will be recorded and they can count on the centre to continue to fill their prescriptions at discounted rates.
The team urges the UAE community to donate old spectacles to be given to workers with the same refractive problems. People could donate their old glasses by dropping them off at The Vision Center on Al Wasl Road. The group also invites companies wishing to sponsor new glasses to get in touch.
The writer is an intern with the Readers’ Desk of the newspaper
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