Special Correspondent

10,948 found to have defective vision

COIMBATORE: Concerted efforts should be made to rid Coimbatore region of eye defects in children, the Chairman of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Coimbatore Kendra, B.K. Krishnaraj Vanavarayar, said here on Tuesday.

As chief guest of a function organised by The Eye Foundation to commemorate the coverage of over 60,000 college and schoolstudents under its Project Vision scheme, Mr. Vanavarayar said even many people in urban areas were not aware of the risks from vision defects that could occur in children. "They are casual about it and by the time one realises the seriousness of the problem, it is too late."

Childhood blindness

Mr. Vanavarayar called upon the heads of educational institutions and members of other organisations invited to the meeting to spread the message of timely intervention to prevent childhood blindness. "We must see to it that no child in this region suffers from preventable blindness."

The Medical Director of the foundation, D. Ramamurthi, said 61,827 students in Coimbatore and Tirupur had been screened under Project Vision from April 1 last year to March 31 this year. It is a programme for school and college students in Coimbatore and Tirupur for early detection and correction of visual defects. Of these students, 10,948 were found to have defective vision and referred to the base hospital in the city.

Students with normal vision were given a white card so that the parents could also be informed of this. Those who had problems were given a green card and told they had to undergo a complete examination soon.

The hospital offered a 50 per cent concession to these students. If a student could not afford to pay even half the cost of treatment, it could be offered free on furnishing a letter from the head of the institution on the economic status of the family.

The Managing Trustee of the Nethra Jyothi Trust, the charitable wing of the foundation, Chithra Ramamurthi, listed out various eye defects that could affect children.

She stressed the role of teachers and parents in early detection of these problems and timely treatment.

Poor response

The District Education Officer, M.K. Rajarajan, regretted that only 10 per cent of the students diagnosed with problems came to the hospital for follow-up. The heads of institutions should ensure that it was 100 per cent.

Stating that poor vision was the cause for many road accidents, the past Rotary District Governor, K.A. Kuriachan, said more motivation was needed in the form of outreach programmes such as Project Vision.