“Catch Them Early”; Eye Specialist Draws Attention To Children’s Vision Problems

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“We recently saw a 3-year-old child who was operated for cataract in his both eyes in the bush by some unauthorized personnel. Unfortunately, following the operation the child became completely blind. Now there is very little hope to restore the child’s vision, and the family was deeply disappointed to hear that. This child actually made us to think how we can avoid such incidents in our country. The first thing that came to our mind was poor awareness about children’s eye problems and what needs to be done about them,” Dr. Niranjan K. Pehere, Head Doctor of the Liberia Eye Center, John F. Kennedy Hospital, emphasized.

   The Liberia Eye Center (LEC-JFK), run by the LV Prasad Eye Institute of India, caters to the eye problems of Liberians on a humanitarian basis. The team at the LEC-JFK has accomplished many successfully treated people with different eye problems, including eye infections, diabetic eye conditions, carrying out laser treatment, glaucoma assessment and surgery, cataract surgery, surgeries for eyelid problems, treating eye cancers and catering to refractive error with provision of spectacles, and many more.

   However, Dr. Pehere has decried the lack of awareness on eye health, and has been encouraging Liberians across the country to take good care of their vision, as eyesight is very precious.

   At the same time, the professional eye specialist is calling on Liberian parents to pay keen attention to their children’s behavior for possible vision problems.

   According to him, “Poor vision in a growing child affects his/her development in every area. A child going blind has a significant impact on not only his own life, but the whole family, community and the country at large. When we save a child from going blind, we actually save several years of blindness that the child would live, and that is a contribution to the country’s future; hence, childhood blindness should be an area of priority for every country.

   “We should remember that a problem with a child’s eye and eye problem in an adult are not the same. A baby is born with very limited vision and slowly learns to see over a few months. If any eye problem develops during this sensitive period, it causes a long lasting effect on the child’s vision,” Dr. Pehere disclosed.

   Dr. Pehere underscored the fact that often children do not complain about their vision problems themselves, but think that everyone else sees the way they do; therefore, the adults around children need to be watchful about children’s behavior to suspect vision problems.

   He noted that while observing a child’s eye, family members and teachers should be alerted about possible eye problems. He disclosed some of the signs and symptoms as

  1. Difficulty in reading from the board in the school:
  • Holding the book/notebook very close while reading:
  • Making mistakes while reading and writing:
  • Frequent eye rubbing: 
  • White reflex from the eye: This could be cataract as seen in this child
  • White reflex from eye: It could be eye cancer, as in this child
  • Crossed eyes: one eye looking straight and other eye looking at the side
  • One eye looking larger than the other can indicate glaucoma (raised eye pressure) in that eye:
  • One eye looking smaller than the other:
  1. Child unable to see in dim light:

The eye specialist highlighted that, if any of these signs is noticed on a child it should instigate immediate medical attention, or it may develop into an incurable level and cause blindness.

   He explained that all prematurely born children are at risk of developing an eye problem called retinopathy of prematurity, and if not diagnosed and treated on time it can lead to irreversible blindness. Hence, all prematurely born children have to be examined at the age of 30 days.

   “Since children’s eye problems are unique, they need an eye doctor who has the expertise in dealing with them. At the LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) Liberia Eye Center, located at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Medical Center, we have an experienced child eye specialist with a child-friendly team and all necessary equipment for examination and surgeries for children,” Dr. Pehere disclosed.

   He named OneSight as an international non-governmental organization (NGO) in the field of eye care that is in close partnership with LVPEI in the combat against vision problems in Liberia.

   Dr. Pehere entreated every Liberian to help spread the awareness about children’s eye problems as a way of ensuring that no child in Liberia needlessly suffers from vision problems.

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