Eye care services should reach rural areas: Venkaiah

By NT Bureau Published on Jul 30, 2018 12:37 PM IST

Chennai: Observing that the Union and various State Governments, as also the private sector were working shoulder-to-shoulder to reduce blindness through comprehensive eye care services, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu said the need of the hour was to ensure that these services were made available in rural areas, particularly the remote parts of the country.

Speaking at the valedictory function of 'OSKON-2018, the thrid Ocular

Surface and Keratoprosthesis Conference, organised by the Medical

and Vision Research Foundations here, he said though medical and surgical camps were being conducted all over the country from time to time, he added the unique idea such as the Mobile Eye Surgical Unit (MESU), a brain child of Dr S Badrinath of Sankara Nethralaya, has been implemented in partnership with the IIT Madras, to take the operation theatre to the doorstep of remote

rural India.

"This concept should be replicated in other parts of the country and private eye care services should take a lead in this regard", Naidu said.

He further said treatment of corneal blindness, which was another important cause for visual loss, has seen advancement by leaps and bounds over the last decade.

"Eye donation, a most noble act after death, can alleviate blindness and restore vision in those with corneal blindness", he added.

Stating that cataract, glaucoma and diabetes remain the leading cause for treatable blindness across the globe and also in India, he said according to the National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB), the main cause of blindness include cataract (62.6 per cent) refractive  error (19.70 per cent) corneal blindness (0.90 per cent) and glaucoma (5.80 per cent), among others.

"Since 80-90 per cent blindness is avoidable, we need to increase eye care facilities to treat cataract, glaucoma and other ophthalmological problems," the Vice President said, adding, blindness from glaucoma could be prevented if diagnosed and treated early.

He added that with the support of the State and the Central Governments, ensuring the safety of the children should be the utmost priority and all measures should be taken to ensure safer packaging of chunambu.

"It is quite painful lot of freak accidents with the chunnambu that we take with vettalai (betel nut leaves) or pan is such a devastating cause of blindness, most of the innocent victims being school going children, for whom their entire future becomes a question mark," he said.

He added that there is a need to take up promotional campaigns in every nook and corner of the country to make sure that chuna is no longer packed in flimsy polythene packets. He said people also need to be educated on safety measures while handling hazardous substances at workplaces and in homes like handling of common household items like chunam and cleaning acid.

"Worse still is the social stigma, which is even more horrendous when these youngsters have endured the ordeal of vitriolage (acid attack), the cruellest crime that can be committed," Naidu said.