Why Children’s Eyes Need Early Protection –Renowned Optometrist, Chigaemezu Edward
A passionate Optometrist, Dr Chigaemezu Edward has sounded the clarion call to Parents and Guardians on the need to pay more attention to their children and wards eye health state.
According to the renowned optometrist, Children are not exempted from contracting eye infections and diseases, and this has led to a surge in eye health challenges that has affected them in the rural and urban areas across the Nation.
“The eye is a very delicate organ in the body and requires protection against external factors that could lead to infections and diseases. Many Nigerians are not aware that children need to undergo comprehensive eye examination when they are six months old, three to five and then annually as they grow older. This is to ensure that the eyes are developing normally and one can easily detect on time any changes in the child’s vision.
“In fact, the first six years of a child’s development are critical in eye health care because it’s when children are very susceptible to experiencing eye challenges. They might know that something is wrong, some might report to parents while some may not, depending on how open and approachable the children view their parents or guardians. Be that as It may, parents owe a duty of care to watch out for symptoms of eye problems in children.”
He further unveils the symptoms thus: “When a parent observes that the child is now blinking constantly, has difficulty focusing on objects, suddenly starts tripping and falling unnecessarily, finds it difficult to recognize familiar objects, complains of blurry vision, easily irritated by bright light, among other things, these are clear indications that all is not well with the eyes and immediate treatment is needed to forestall eventual damage to the eyes.”
Many people have the belief that eye diseases and infections are largely adult centred, hence, little attention is paid to children.
Dr Edward states “Children and adults are vulnerable to eye infections and diseases. Where detected early in children, most of the issues can be prevented and treated. Eye diseases affecting children can be congenital cataracts, pediatric cataracts among others, and with infections it’s easier to curtail if treated on time.
“Failure to seek immediate and proper treatment can lead to loss of vision of the child. Eye infections in children are caused by bacteria conjunctivitis, known in local parlance as Apollo, viral conjunctivitis, orbital cellulitis, which is a deep infection of the eye lid and surrounding tissues. Then there’s endophthalmitis caused by bacteria from a penetrating eye injury.”
Eye injury is one of the biggest challenges parents face on a regular basis as it’s easily sustained during perceived harmless activities such as playing with friends in school or at home.
According to Dr Edward “This is one common way that children can have eye challenges particularly where toys are involved when playing; such as darts, toy guns, anything that can act as a flying missile is dangerous. Fighting is equally unsafe as the opponent can hit the eye and playing with broomsticks, stones, sand, will serve as projectiles into the eyes.
“Hence, it is important for parents to educate their children on the need to always protect same while playing, and never point toys or other things towards the eyes. This makes the child better informed, more cautious of doing same while playing and he or she can enlighten his or her friends as well, who in turn spread the word.
“Another way children can have eye infections is through the use of chemicals that should have no contact with the eyes whether perfumes, fragrances, house hold cleaning products, insecticides, generally products that can cause eye irritation should be guarded against. Common eye injuries children suffer from are corneal ulcers, internal eye bleeding, traumatic cataracts among others. Where games are perceived to be dangerous, as parents you should get them protective eye wear. Early discovery and involvement by parents’ aids in preventing child blindness or any eye disease particularly when the child is still very young.”
It is possible for parents to be aware of the children’s eye challenges but not know the cause.
Fishing in the dark by buying over the counter eye medications that can be used to treat the challenge is totally wrong as it can further worsen the problem and lead to blindness.
Parents should take their children’s eye health care seriously and protect them from infections and diseases.