It was good to read that screening has been done in Labasa to check the eyes of some of the people. A large number were found to have cataracts so there will have to be some publicity, more than just one article in the paper, to help with the prevention. Labasa is a hot sunny place and sunglasses may be part of the solution.
From Fiji Times today: (I can't read Fiji Sun news items today - something else pops up instead - pity as Fiji Sun usually has a few stories from Labasa each day.)
Thursday, January 28, 2010
SUNGLASSES are more than just a fashion statement and should be treated as tools in preventing cataracts the leading cause of blindness in Fiji. Of 3000 people surveyed in Labasa through the Sight First Project of the Lions Club in 2009, 525 suffered from cataracts, some of whom were given eyeglasses while 89 underwent surgery. Sight First project manager Roshan Lal said a program would be carried out in the division urging people to wear sunglasses.
Medical authorities say exposure to the sun's ultra violet rays is a cause of cataract, an optical condition in which the lens of the eye hardens and becomes opaque leading to blindness. Labasa Hospital Eye Department head Dr Sandeep Nakhate said cataracts were a major problem in Fiji. "Fifty per cent of blind people I attend to are blind because of cataracts," Dr Nakhate said. "If untreated, as is the case in rural areas, it could to blindness."
Dr Kishore Kumar of the Labasa Optica Clinic said awareness was needed in rural areas where people treated sun glasses as an unnecessary piece of cosmetic.
"The general attitude is that sunglasses are accessories, for those that are fashionable, therefore one can do without it," Dr Kumar said. "But it's necessary considering the hot sun we have here everyday in the north. However, sunglasses must be genuine UV ones that can protect the eyes. This is a factor that we can control to prevent cataracts because once a person has it, it will take its course and cause blindness unless corrective surgery is taken."
Corrective surgery involves implanting an artificial lens into the diseased eye. Dr Nakhate said although cataracts could also be hereditary, and caused by other factors like diabetes and aging, sunglasses help control the UV ray factor.