General people, specially elderly people, of rural areas are being deprived of eye care due to lack of facilities in upazila and district hospitals across the country
As a result, many of them suffer from various ailments like eye inflammation leading to early blindness.
Most of the elderly people in rural areas suffer from various vision complications and inflammations like retinopathy, cataract, glaucoma, low vision and trachoma for lack of eye care services in the state-run hospitals.
As per experts, the country has around 14 million geriatric people. Seventy percent of them live in rural areas, who suffer from various eye-related ailments due to lack of services in public hospitals.
Noted ophthalmologists expressed grave concern over the matter as glaucoma, retinopathy, low-vision and trachoma are common eye diseases in the country.People with diabetic problems are most vulnerable to vision-related ailments.
Renowned ophthalmologist Prof Dr Nazrul Islam said, “Retinopathy, an eye inflammation, may lead to silent vision loss. In most cases, patients do not feel any discomfort in their eyes during preliminary infection. When they start getting hazy vision and find difficulties in reading or driving, they visit general physicians, who usually advise them to take general medication instead of that for eye inflammation.”
People in rural areas are not aware about the disease. They, usually, come to an ophthalmologist when 70 percent damage had already been done in their eye vision, which is irreparable. Usually, diabetic patients have high possibility of being infected with retinopathy, he informed.
“Trachoma is another eye disease and a bacterial infection that causes repeated conjunctivitis, irritating the eye which is found among children and elderly people,” Prof Dr Nazrul pointed out.
People living in crowded households are particularly vulnerable to the disease, which is also linked to extreme poverty and poor sanitation, he added.
Dr Enayet Hossain, another noted eye specialist, said, ‘Glaucoma is another common eye disease in both developed and developing countries and it is estimated that 4.5 million become blind from it globally.”
“In Bangladesh, Glaucoma is often associated with ageing. People with glaucoma feel pressure on their eyes causing increased pressure in eyeball, resulting in loss of vision in most cases. Glaucoma develops gradually and people may not realise that they have been affected. Reaching an advanced stage, Glaucoma becomes extremely dangerous and its treatment becomes expensive,” Dr Enayet said.
Dr Shahed Ahamed, a noted public health expert, said, “Early diagnosis can prevent the disease. But, in our country, eye treatment is available mainly in urban areas and eye treatment is not rendered to patients at upazilas hospitals.”
So, sufferers are being deprived of minimum eye treatment facilities from rural healthcare points, not even from upazila healthcare centres. This is alarming because many people having eye inflammations face early blindness for lack of eye specialist and treatment facilities in rural healthcare centres, he lamented.
Contacted, the director general of the Directorate of Health Services, Prof Dr Abul Kalam Azad, said they would take steps for appointment of an eye specialist at every upazila health complex to render eye treatment to common people so that they may be protected from early blindness.