When eyes become the greatest casualty

Dhaka,  Tue,  26 September 2017
Published : 17 Aug 2017, 20:58:24
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Editorial

When eyes become the greatest casualty

While philanthropic service will mean a lot for visually impaired children from the bottom rung of society, the emphasis ought to be on prevention of blindness among children yet to born in all families --rich or poor
Visual impairment in Bangladesh has always remained on the high side. The number of visually impaired children below six years of age alone is estimated at 1.0 million and as many as 30,000 children suffer night blindness every year. If night blindness is the result of malnutrition, overexposure to electronic display devices and longer stay in artificial light pose a growing threat to young people's eyesight. However, amidst this grim picture, the silver lining is that two-thirds of such blindness can be permanently cured or prevented provided that proper treatment can be given in time. As the nature of child blindness suggests, the overwhelming majority still belong to poor families which cannot afford nutritional and balanced foods. So far as balanced foods are concerned, those are not a problem with poor families alone, those in the affluent segment particularly in cities and towns have also developed a culinary habit where balance of food intake is conspicuous by its absence. This trend is fast catching up with other segments of society with fast foods invading the market. 

Linked to nutritional deficiency, night blindness is no less a subject of socio-economic condition. But it is also an issue of culinary culture. People must know the value of apparently insignificant vegetables or other food items. Then the cooking process may as well become a deciding factor for retention or rejection of nutritional qualities of foods. A social campaign can certainly make a difference in the situation. More importantly, lessons on such matters in textbooks can bring about a positive change in people's old habits responsible for spoiling nutritional qualities of foods. Improvement in the country's economic status must get reflected in people's dietary habit. There is no point imitating the Western habits, better it would be to improve on food selection, processing and cooking. 

So far as the overexposure to electronic gadgets' screens is concerned, it is a completely new dimension in the new generation's lifestyle. So addicted the majority of today's children and teenagers are that they are hardly aware of the adverse impacts this habit causes on their physical and mental health. Sure enough, they have the wide world at their finger tips but at the same time abuse or overuse of such gadgets is causing their physical and mental impairment. Eyes become the greatest casualty as a result. Today the greatest number of young people use spectacles compared to any time before.

It is good to learn that a non-profit organisation called Light House Trust under the supervision of its founder Dr Kazi Shabbir Anwar, a specialist in child ophthalmology, has been serving the underprivileged visually impaired children in this country since 2000. Under the trust, 1,900 children have been served since 2005. More such social services should be provided by different other organisations engaged in child ophthalmology. While this will mean a lot for visually impaired children from the bottom rung of society, the emphasis ought to be on prevention of blindness among children yet to born in all families --rich or poor.  
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Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
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