Wed, Oct 08, 2003 - Page 2 News List

DOH urges parents to check eye health of children

By Joy Su  /  STAFF REPORTER

In keeping with the goals of the World Health Organization's (WHO) World Sight Day tomorrow, the Department of Health yesterday announced initiatives to diagnose and treat eye disorders in children under the age of six, warning that the conditions must be treated early to avoid permanent loss of vision.

Bureau of Health Promotion Director-General Lin Shio-jean (林秀娟) said that last year 12.31 percent of children who had their eyes tested had some degree of visual impairment.

The results are an improvement from the previous year, during which 15.04 percent of those tested failed to meet the basic standards.

In a sample of 300,000 children under six years old, around 5,600 had a lazy eye, 760 had crossed eyes and 13,817 had double vision.

"Children should not use the computer until the age of 10. Video games should also be avoided as much as possible," said Luke Lin (林隆光), an ophthalmologist at the National Taiwan University Hospital.

Lin Shio-jean said that over the next month the health department would be offering courses on how people can take care of their eyes.

She said that her bureau has been pushing for all children under the age of six to be tested. Around 95 percent of this age group was tested last year, she said.

But Luke Lin said that the problem was no longer one of testing children so much as following up on the results of the exams.

"Parents don't necessarily make sure children get professional care even after preliminary tests determine visual impairment," he said.

However, treatment for visual disorders such having a lazy eye or being cross-eyed must begin early, he said.

"Often, after the age of six or seven, there is no way to treat the disorder, and patients will have to deal with the condition for their entire life," he said.

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