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Early diagnosis of inflammation prevents blindness

Update: November, 12/2007 - 00:00

Early diagnosis of inflammation prevents blindness

(13-11-2007)

A doctor performs free eye exams for children at the Central Ophthalmology Hospital in Ha Noi. — VNA/VNS Photo Huu Oai

HA NOI — Each year, the National Eye Hospital treats between 80 and 100 children suffering from endophthalmitis, as does Sai Gon Eye Hospital. However, the actual number of sufferers was much greater, former hospital director Ton Thi Kim Thanh stated.

Endophthalmitis is an inflammation of the intraocular cavity. Professor Thanh said the inflammation was triggered by bacterial infection caused by an injury to the eye. Children suffering from the disease are likely to lose their vision and, in some cases, the eye must be surgically removed.

Sufferers demonstrate several symptoms such as decreased visual acuity, redness, pain and ocular discharge. Endophthalmitis may follow an eye injury anywhere from hours to days after the event, depending on the agent of infection.

The disease occurs seasonally and more commonly in rural areas, with children under five proving particularly susceptible. Early diagnosis is key to prevent inflammation leading to blindness.

According to the study by the Tropical Disease Hospital’s deputy director, Dr Tran Tinh Hien, infection from Streptococcus suis (found in pigs) is one of the main causes of the disease. The number of infected people has risen in the last decade, owing to the close contact between humans and infected pigs. These people also frequently suffer from meningitis, septicaemia and pneumonia.

Thanh stated that children exhibiting ocular redness or swelling should be taken to the hospital for treatment. Once there, children can be injected with antibiotics or have their eyes drained of fluid.

Retinal detachment is an eye disease most often encountered in premature infants and is the most prevalent eye disease of that age group. Caused by injuries to small ocular blood vessels, the disease can lead to permanent loss of vision.

Retinal detachment usually results in short-sightedness, the degree of which varies depending on the level of infection. Around 80 per cent of treated children suffered lasting complications such as squinting and short-sightedness, said Thanh.

Children with retinal scars caused by laser treatment should be tracked periodically due to their increased likeliness of suffering retinal detachment. There are few preventative measures for the disease aside from wearing safety goggles to prevent eye injury.

There are currently only two hospitals in Viet Nam, Children’s Hospital No 1 and the Central Children’s Hospital, able to treat retina detachment in premature infants. — VNS

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