Kids need to be taken for vision screening at pre-schooling to avoid the risk of developing amblyopia or lazy eye, country’s only orthoptist Aqsa Syed has told Gulf Times.
A common visual impairment issue in children, amblyopia is a condition of reduced vision in one eye. Early detection of amblyopia is crucial for equally good vision in either eye.
Syed works for Sidra Medical and Research Center. She has been in Qatar for a year now and has been seeing referred paediatric patients at Hamad Medical Corporation with the Sidra Ophthalmology team and the HMC paediatric and neuro-ophthalmology consultants.
Orthoptics is essentially the diagnosis and management of eye muscle disorders and vision. An orthoptist is an allied health professional and has a biomedical science degree in orthoptics.
Syed said: “You can improve the vision of the children until the age of visual maturation which occurs up to the age of eight. During my short stay in Qatar, several children have been detected with amblyopia, even at later ages such as age 12.”
She suggested that parents should consider getting vision screening done while their children are at pre-school age – as this can help diagnose vision problems at an early stage and prevent conditions like amblyopia from getting worse when the children are older.
“Young children are not able to express that they have reduced or weak vision in one eye as they are unaware of the condition. This is why it is important for parents to bring in their pre-school age children for regular eye checkups. If left untreated in early childhood, amblyopia can persist and may lead to monocular (one eye) visual impairment in adulthood.”
Syed said the role of orthoptists has changed significantly over the past decade and that they have moved away from traditionally managing only cases related to amblyopia and squints. Many orthoptists have extended their practice and this has enabled ophthalmologists to concentrate on more complex cases.
“Double vision and blurred vision are other major vision related complaints that people might suffer from. Orthoptists treat both adults and children and the symptoms in both the groups might be different,” she added.
The orthoptist highlighted that people and children involved in road traffic accidents may have impact eye or head trauma and subsequently can develop the problem of double vision.
“The issue of double vision can be corrected with fresnel prisms to align the image that each eye sees. An orthoptist can manage such patients, carry out pre and post-operative assessment and evaluation for people who need surgery of their eye muscles.”
“Several of the vision and eye muscle problems can be set right by conventional non- surgical processes such as glasses, patching or by using a prism on the glasses. Sometimes we manipulate the lenses of the glasses or prescribe exercises for strengthening the eye muscles, among many more treatment methods,” she added.
Syed also pointed out that dry eye is a huge problem in this part of the world due to the strong summer heat and sand storms. She has advised parents to encourage their children to wear sun protection glasses and to take them in for regular eye examinations.
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