Dr. Darakhshanda Khurram, Consultant Paediatric Ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai.
Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai recommends greater use of eye protection equipment for schoolchildren whilst playing in playgrounds, playing organised sports, and working in science labs, to help prevent common injuries to the eye.
There are no official statistics in the UAE but in the USA, over 40,000 eye related sports injuries are treated every year.
We should pay more attention to eye protection in the school environment, as accidents involving injuries to the eye are very common – from paper cuts to bruising during play and sports accidents. Of course, we cannot prevent every accident but there are some simple ways to reduce the risk such as the use of goggles in sports and in the science lab. The eye is quite a frail structure and so protection is important – we can repair damage around the eye very successfully but the eye itself is delicate.
Moorfields stresses the importance of regular vision screening, injury prevention, and the assessment of eye trauma (injury) at schools and the need for quick response. Sports, the playground and even science laboratories, especially those using potentially hazardous chemicals such as acids and especially alkalis, are all areas of potential risk to the eyes.
Assessing the extent of any potential eye injury, and testing methods for checking the impact of these injuries on the vision of the student, are important in managing any eye injury and the key is to assess any damage quickly and then take action or refer to a specialist. The use of constant irrigation (washing with a saline solution or water) does make a dramatic impact on the outcome of the treatment and so this is a simple but very effective rule to follow.
According to ophthalmologists, around one-quarter of school-age children have some form of vision problem, such as short-sightedness, astigmatism, cataracts, colour blindness, lazy eye or genetic diseases. Many of these problems begin well before school age and can go undetected, and so screening at an early age is an important part of the prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment process.
Eyesight problems among children are more common than many people may think. If a child constantly complains of eye problems such as eye strain, there may be a vision problem.