WORLD Sight Day is celebrated annually on the second Thursday in October with the aim of bringing awareness to blindness and vision impairment.
Managing director of Ideal Vision Optical Brent Khan said based on World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, approximately 80 per cent of vision disorders are largely due to a lack of early eye examinations.
Khan stressed on the importance of getting tested at a young age, preferably by seven years old.
“Where eye examinations are concerned, it is very important for the population, even for those who are not wearing glasses, to understand how important it is to have a test done to detect vision disorders,” he said.
Khan also linked vision disorders to many issues, including children with learning disabilities and the effects it has on an individual’s daily, professional and social lifestyle.
Khan suggested that in order to detect vision disorders there should be a mandatory testing for children, or to at least have one eye test done by the age of seven.
He said parents should pay close attention to children who struggle to read and identify shapes, as these may be signs of vision disorders.
“Eye exams help us to detect vision disorders which can be corrected with glasses or through surgical intervention. There is a primary health care issue on vision which needs to be fully integrated into the health system,” said Khan.
While the fear of blindness is a reality, this sometimes prevents people from getting tested.
“Prevention is better than cure but no action is worse,” he added.
Making reference to the United Kingdom’s health system, he said a voucher system has been put in place by the government for children and the elderly to have access to private opticians. He believes every child should have the right for an opportunity to have good vision.
While he commended the government on its proactive approach to include Braille on the new polymer notes, Khan believes more should be done by the state.
“The Blind Welfare Association, which serves as a non-government organisation, is doing a lot but there is room for improvement. There needs to be a bit more collaboration between the government and private entities.
“In the UK, social workers visit the homes of blind and visually-impaired people and do a complete assessment of their living conditions and needs. This is something social services here in TT can adapt to. Quite often people will hurt themselves and nobody knows,” he said.