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DHA has announced the launch of a joint awareness and prevention campaign in collaboration with Aster DM Healthcare’s eye care division Aster Opticals, to conduct free eye screening across Dubai schools. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Dubai Health Authority’s (DHA) efforts to strengthen collaboration with private healthcare institutions aims at leveraging the capabilities of both the public and private sector, in a manner that it serves the community and provides the highest level of quality healthcare for the people.

In alignment with this, the authority has announced the launch of a joint awareness and prevention campaign, in collaboration with Aster DM Healthcare’s eye care division Aster Opticals, to conduct free eye screening across Dubai schools, with the aim to promote early detection of eye diseases and early intervention.

This campaign in partnership with Aster Opticals will help inform parents and caregivers if their children have any vision problems that require corrective measures. The campaign will also help authorities understand patterns and causes that are leading to near or far-sightedness among children, one of the most common health problems in the world.

Dr. Ramadan Ibrahim AlBlooshi, Acting Director at DHA’s Public Health & Protection Department, said: “Preventative screening programs not only help in early detection and intervention but also encourage community members to adopt model health behaviours. At the DHA, school health in particular is a key area of focus to ensure we educate our children about how they can adopt simple practices to lead a healthier life. Eyecare and regular screenings are important to detect any changes in the eye that require early intervention and treatment, and this is our purpose through the proactive preventive measures being implemented by the Authority with its partners.”

Sana Naser, Acting Health of School Health Sector at DHA’s Public Health & Protection Department, said: “School health campaigns are vital to instill the importance of healthy lifestyle and behaviours among school children, especially adolescents so that they can be healthy adults. Young children may not always know if their vision is affected and therefore a six-monthly vision test is vital for early detection and treatment which is normally in the form of eye glasses or contact lenses in young adults, as directed by a specialist.”

Alisha Moopen, Deputy Managing Director, Aster DM Healthcare, said: “Myopia is the hardest to detect because young children don’t always understand that their vision is compromised. Usual symptoms or traits in cases of myopia in children are when they sit too near to a television, hold a book or mobile too close to their eyes to be able to see - so it is imperative that parents observe their kids closely and watch for these symptoms and seek medical counsel. Through this campaign, we are trying to educate parents and children to treat their eyes with utmost care.”

Dr Krishnamoorthy Janardhan, Specialist Ophthalmologist, Aster Clinic – Union Medical Centre Karama, said: “Early diagnosis through a comprehensive eye examination and treatment can prevent long-term problems with the child’s vision. The eye with poorer vision can usually be corrected with glasses or contact lenses, and patching therapy. A detailed eye examination helps to identify any underlying refractive errors and other eye problems in children. Observing frequent visual breaks, reducing non-essential screen time, maintaining adequate room lighting, proper screen position and healthy posture, regular eye check-ups and wearing corrective and protective glasses helps control digital eye strain. It is recommended for children to undergo a routine vision screening every six months.”

Noah Mather, a young student from Dubai who wants to encourage youngsters to prioritise eye health, said, “I had a cataract from an eye injury when I was just two years old, and by the time I was three, I had four eye surgeries. Most of my childhood, I wore an eyepatch on my good eye to train my poor eye to keep working and not switching off. Eyesight is a precious gift of life and should be taken care of . Regular eye screenings and restricted time on devices should be taken really seriously. I would strongly encourage everyone, especially the youth to value their eyesight and follow the right measures to maintain a healthy eyesight.”

Common eye problems in children include refractive errors, strabismus, lazy eye and digital eye strain. Refractive errors that include Myopia (nearsightedness), Hyperopia (farsightedness) and Astigmatism are the most common cause of eye sight problems in children. They are most often caused by abnormalities on the surface of the eye that prevent light from properly being focused on the retina.