October, 13 2012 09:05:00

Cataracts cause most blindness

HA NOI (VNS)— The medical sector is trying to reduce cases of blindness in the country that currently stands at 0.6 per cent of population by providing more cataract trachoma surgery and improving eye care in the community.

"Cataracts, the main cause of blindness in Viet Nam, should be controlled by increasing surgery rates to at least 2,000-2,500 cases per 1 million people (from the current rate of 1,760/1 million people) in 2013," said director of the Viet Nam National Institute of Opthalmology, Do Nhu Hon at the national eye care conference in Ha Noi yesterday.


Bank funds eye care

HA NOI — Standard Chartered Bank committed to donate over US$1 million for a new $1.3 million "Comprehensive Eye Care Development Project" at a meeting to mark World Sight Day jointly held in Ha Noi yesterday by the bank, the Fred Hollows Foundation and the Ha Noi Eye Hospital. per cent of the project cost would be covered by the Fred Hollows Foundation.

The project, which is under the fifth phase of a long term eye care programme, will run from 2013-16, to strengthen eye health services and infrastructure for the delivery of high quality, affordable and accessible eye care in remote areas of Viet Nam. — VNS

Surveys by the institute in the provinces of Son La, Thanh Hoa, Nghe An and Quang Nam last year showed that cataracts were still the major cause of blindness, accounting for between 55-72 per cent of cases.

Last year, cataract surgery was carried out on more than 133,500 patients, an increase of 10,000 patients compared to the previous year.

"Mobile cataract surgery campaigns should be put forward in the community, especially for the poor, with funding from the health insurance fund and donors," said Hon.

Hon said the rate of eye surgery in the community was down from last year due to a shortage of human resources at district level. Only 211 districts had eye care specialists, accounting for 30 per cent of the country's 697 districts.

Many poor patients do not have the money for cataract surgery, even though the health insurance fund covers up to 80 per cent of expenses.

Hon also said that around 3 million children in Viet Nam needed to wear glasses due to refractive errors. The rate of refractive errors was very high, between 40-50 per cent of students in urban areas, while the rate among rural students was from 10-15 per cent.

Priority would also be given to quick evaluation of trachomas in an effort to draft a plan to eliminate the disease in Viet Nam by the end of 2015, and a campaign to examine refractive errors for students aged between 11-15 would be carried out in the community.

The Viet Nam National Institute of Opthalmology said that the country had around 400,000 blind people, and 2 million more with sight in just one eye. — VNS

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