Al-Shifa Eye Trust Hospital says Glaucoma in children is increasing rapidly.

The prevalence of Glaucoma in children is increasing rapidly in Pakistan, requiring proper intervention, Al-Shifa Trust eye hospital said Friday. Glaucoma in children is a vision-threatening condition highly prevalent in our population. It said this might be due to the high incidence of consanguinity or family marriages in Pakistan. Timely medication and surgical treatment can help control this disease with a good visual outcome. They can save many children from lifelong visual disability or blindness, Prof. Dr Sumaira Altaf, Head of the Paediatric department at Al-Shifa Trust.

She said that Glaucoma in children had become a growing cause of concern worldwide and in Pakistan, as millions are suffering from it. Treatment of Glaucoma in children needs specialised medical and surgical care and frequent follow-ups hence parents of children suffering from childhood Glaucoma have to face psychological and financial stress, she added.

Dr Sumaira Altaf said that Al-Shifa Trust Eye Hospital provides free of cost medical and surgical treatment to 80 percent of patients who experienced and skilled Paediatric Ophthalmologists treat.

On average, 22 to 25 paediatric eye surgeries are performed daily, including various types of surgeries for Glaucoma, she informed. The successful treatment of these patients has resulted in many referrals to the trust’s hospital nationwide.

Many cases of paediatric Glaucoma have secondary causes either due to trauma, previous eye surgery, associated eye anomalies or injudicious use of steroids. Dr Sumaira highlighted that the vision of many unfortunate children had been compromised because of the careless use of over-the-counter steroid eye drops.

Moreover, salespeople frequently prescribe harmful medicines at pharmacies to relatives, quacks, and sometimes to general practitioners, who are ignorant that these medicines lead to complications and irreversible blindness.

Pharmaceutical companies should also mention the side effects of these medicines on their packaging as knowledge regarding paediatric Glaucoma is scarce, she said, adding that examination at birth by an ophthalmologist is recommended for every child to rule out any eye abnormalities.

She advised that an annual eye examination by an ophthalmologist is recommended to detect early signs of Glaucoma or other ocular problems and intervene before it is too late.

Dr Sumaira Altaf said that the Al-Shifa Department of Paediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus Rawalpindi has fully equipped OPD clinics, paediatric vision and refraction clinics, and all the diagnostic tests required for children.

The competent team of Ophthalmologists caters to an OPD of 250 to 300 children daily, while 22 to 25 paediatric eye surgeries are performed daily under general anaesthesia. Our Paediatric Ophthalmology Department is playing a key role in our fight against childhood blindness, she said.

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