|An ophthalmologist at Vĩnh Long Province General Hospital conducts an eye examination. — VNA/VNS Photo Phạm Minh Tuấn|
HÀ NỘI — Linh Giang and her five-year-old son travel nearly 600km from the central province of Quảng Trị to Hà Hội for periodic eye check-ups.
“He has suffered both astigmatism and myopia since a very young age,” Giang told Việt Nam News. “Therefore, I think it is better for him to have his eyes examined at the Central Eye Hospital in Hà Nội.”
Her son has worn eyeglasses to correct the refractive errors for seven months, under a doctor’s guidance.
Although other parents tell her the check-ups are a waste of money, Giang has good reason to worry.
Up to 65 per cent of corrective lenses sold at optical shops in Việt Nam have the wrong prescription, according to a new study by Australia-based Brien Holden Vision Institute, in collaboration with the Central Eye Hospital.
Meanwhile, nearly 36 million Vietnamese people have refractive errors.
The percentage of children aged six to 15 years old suffering vision problems is between 25 and 40 per cent in urban areas and between 10 and 15 per cent in rural areas.
Myopia is the most common vision issue among young people.
Professor Bruce Moore from The New England College of Optometry told Nhân dân (People) newspaper that vision problems present challenges to children’s comprehensive development. Early detection and treatment is important, otherwise children will suffer setbacks in their learning development.
Professor Moore said the goal of the national eye care system should be to address at least 90 per cent of vision problems in children.
However, he said not every country can achieve this goal.
In Việt Nam, visual health is neglected by many parents. Instead of bringing their children to medical facilities for eye checks; they choose optical shops as one-stop shops to get corrective lenses.
“My eight-year-old son has been nearsighted for a year due to smartphone overuse,” said Nguyễn Mạnh Hùng, a technician in Hà Nội. “As we are so busy, he only has his eyes examined and corrected at optical shops.”
Shocked by the findings of the study, Hùng decided to take his child to a hospital for a proper eye check.
According to experts, to precisely diagnose myopia and other refractive errors in children, eye drops are used to temporarily prevent the eyes from changing focus during testing.
This step is important as the eye’s focusing muscle is much stronger in children than in adults.
But this step adds time, so many opticians in Việt Nam skip it. This can lead to imprecise prescriptions.
Doctor Nguyễn Duy Bích from Hospital E’s Eye Department warned against wearing lenses with an incorrect prescription. If the prescription is too strong, the eyeglasses could cause headaches and blurred vision, impairing children’s ability to learn.
According to Doctor Hoàng Cương from the Central Eye Hospital, about 20 per cent of children have false myopia, also known as pseudomyopia.
This problem is caused by prolonged close reading or using electronic devices like smartphones, computers and televisions, which result in overstrained focusing muscles.
An eye examination which is not performed by a licensed ophthalmologist may lead to an incorrect diagnosis of myopia. Wearing detrimental minus lenses for an extended period may cause visual stress and permanent myopia.
Therefore, Cương recommended parents to take their children to hospitals and medical facilities for accurate examinations and treatment instead of depending on optical shops.
Phạm Trọng Văn, an ophthalmologist from Hà Nội University of Medicine, refractive errors are considered an emerging problem in healthcare and are listed as a priority in the National Plan for Blindness Prevention in Việt Nam by 2020.
Supplying corrective eyeglasses for people with vision errors is one of the most effective interventions to help reduce avoidable blindness and eye diseases. — VNS