Refractive errors, dryness in the eyes, diabetes-related issues, cataract, glaucoma and eye allergies more widespread issues found during the screening
December 23rd, 2019; Ras Al Khaimah, UAE: When it comes to vision problems, residents in Ras Al Khaimah are largely suffering from refractive errors, dryness in the eyes, eye allergies, diabetes-related issues, cataract and glaucoma with more common complaints including blurry vision, headache, dryness, itching or redness of eyes. These were the findings of the ongoing ‘Nazar Ayeni’ (My eyesight) initiative, conducted by RAK Hospital in Ras Al Khaimah. Through its free screening and subsequent medical help, the campaign has been actively creating awareness regarding eye-related health issues, and in a few cases saving people from preventable blindness.
The complimentary service, launched in 2014, aims to screen the entire population of the emirate and draw public attention towards different eye diseases, particularly glaucoma, which – if left untreated – could lead to complete blindness. The doctors further found that most eye issues were caused by excessive exposure to electronic screens, dust allergy, exposure to AC duct air and sunlight, cataract, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.
Hundreds of children have also been screened through this programme especially for Amblyopia or Lazy eye.
“Over the years that we have been screening the RAK residents, one of the biggest problems that we’ve noticed was despite the obvious symptoms of vision disorders, people either don’t pay much attention to them, or have no awareness that the symptoms could be vision-related. In fact, for some it came as a surprise that they were suffering from a disease as severe as glaucoma,” commented Dr Archana Sood, Senior Specialist and Head of Department, Ophthalmology, RAK Hospital.
“For example, there was a case of a Sudanese gentleman Mr Salah Abdel Ghafar Abdel Salam who was completely unaware of his condition and had come for the screening and routine check-up with minor complaints of redness and itching. He followed up with eye specialists at the RAK Eye Care Centre and was found to have advanced glaucoma. His optic nerve was already damaged by 80 percent and visual fields had narrowed. He was treated successfully by anti-glaucoma eye drops and on the next visit to the hospital, his condition had improved considerably,” added Dr Mohit Jain, Specialist Ophthalmologist at RAK Hospital.
“Another such patient was Mr Abid Ali Ahmad from Pakistan who was detected to have very high eye pressures which he was totally unaware of. Had his case not been detected, it could have led to severe visual loss later. Timely treatment saved his vision,” added Dr Archana Sood.
In partnership with the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP), RAK Hospital’s Nazar Ayeni program is in line with WHO Global Initiative to Eliminate Avoidable Blindness, 'VISION 2020: The Right to Sight', which aims to eliminate causes of blindness and vision disorders as a public health problem. With the help of a mobile eye screening vehicle, a team of optometrist and supporting staff screen RAK residents for eye problems and provide appropriate medical assistance when needed.
Commenting on the findings, Dr Raza Siddiqui, Executive Director at RAK Hospital, said: “The Nazar Ayeni program has been instrumental in highlighting the various eye problems faced by UAE population in general and Ras Al Khaimah in particular. We are proud to say that through these camps, we have managed to save many people from preventable blindness, while at the same time created awareness regarding eye diseases so that UAE residents are better able to control their eye health. In a country where vision issues are so prevalent, we need more such widespread programs.”
The Nazar Ayeni initiative has taken eye care to the doorstep of the RAK community particularly aiming to reach out to those who are aged, home-bound, special needs and people of determination, ensuring that no one is deprived of the basic and fundamental right to sight.