Al-Shifa Trust treated 30 million people in three decades.

President Al-Shifa Trust (AST) Eye Hospital Maj. Gen. (Retd) Rehmat Khan on Monday said that diabetes is becoming more and more common in Pakistan, which is one of the primary reasons for vision problems. Recent reports suggest that every fourth person in the country has diabetes, and 25 percent of them do not know they have the issue, which results in severe eye problems, he said. Gen. (Retd) Rehmat Khan said that diabetic retinopathy, a condition where the blood vessels in the eye’s retina are harmed, is rising.

Talking to the media, he said that diabetic retinopathy is the most typical reason for vision problems. Every day, hundreds of people in Pakistan lose their vision also due to avoidable conditions like cataracts, he added.

He said that over 2.6 million individuals suffer from preventable visual impairments, and cataracts are a significant contributor to preventable blindness in those aged 50 and above. About 42 per cent of school-age children suffer from refractive error-related disorders. Since the founding of Al-Shifa Trust, 30 million people have received treatment, and 90,0000 surgeries have been completed.

Almost one million OPD patients are received monthly, and ten thousand surgeries are performed monthly at the trust’s hospitals in Rawalpindi, Chakwal, Kohat, Muzaffarabad, and Sukkar.

He said that the scope of services would increase with the completion of the under-construction hospital at Gilgit-Baltistan and the new block at Chakwal Hospital. Together with the Eye Bank, Light House, Research Center, Eye Cancer Center, Glaucoma, Retina, and Paediatric Referral Services departments, AST runs the most cutting-edge children’s eye hospital in Asia.

At its six facilities, AST offers all services to 80 per cent of patients free of charge. It also manages the most extensive outreach program, setting up free eye camps nationwide, particularly in remote places.

According to him, 70 percent of the Rs 4 billion in annual costs are funded by donations. The threat of blindness has gotten out of control because of ignorance and a lack of district-level services. With the population now over 250 million, a new study is also required to evaluate the seriousness of the issue. He said that the World Health Organization or any other resourceful organisation should be involved in this study.

A government-sponsored awareness campaign in schools and the media, along with diabetes treatment, can help lower the number of people suffering from eye disorders, he said.

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