An annual survey of visual acuity of school students, run by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) during the 2017-18 academic year, has revealed that the sharpness of vision of 14% of students in government schools and 25% of students in private and community schools is below the normal level of 6/6.
The survey, carried out for the year 2016-17, had revealed that eyesight of 17% of students in government schools and 25% of students in private and community schools was below the normal level of 6/6.
The survey, done by MoPH in co-operation with Ministry of Education and Higher Education and Primary Health Care Corporation, covered students in first, third and fifth grade as well as students in first and second preparatory classes.
Sheikha Dr Al Anoud bint Mohammed al-Thani, manager, Health Promotion and Non-Communicable Diseases at MoPH, said the survey covered 96,356 students of 326 schools, 154 of which were government schools (45,038 students), 172 private and community schools (51,318 students).
“Qatar is one of the first countries to implement an eye health programme, where the visual acuity test is mandatory for students in first, third and fifth grade as well as students in first and second preparatory classes. This comes as part of the directives of the World Health Organisation (WHO) where school nurses examine and transfer students with visual impairment to the specialist doctor to be diagnosed and treated correctly, noting that the weakness of sight may cause difficulties in student achievements,” she said.
For her part, head of Non-Communicable Diseases at MoPH, Dr Kholood al-Matawa, said the annual survey is part of the ministry's work to comply with Vision 2020 "the right to sight": A Global Initiative for the Elimination of Avoidable Blindness and in aim to identify volume of visual impairment, causes of blindness and treatment.
“The ministry is organising a number of training workshops and lectures that target training school nurses on the right way and guideline to examine vision, raise awareness on eye diseases and injuries and the ways to treat them,” she added.