Department of Health (DOH) – MIMAROPA (Oriental/Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) recently concluded a 2-day eye check-up and cataract surgery in the island of Lubang in Occidental Mindoro as part of its TSEKAP (or Tamang Serbisyo para sa Kalusugan ng Pamilya) program for communities under the Geographically Isolated Disadvantaged Areas or GIDA on October 4-5, 2016.
“Eye care is still beyond the reach of most people especially those living in remote areas that is why we are extending health care services in these communities to provide them the needed medical interventions and to create awareness and also to educate the them on health,” Regional Director Eduardo C. Janairo stated.
“Even if there is a free medical service, most people can’t afford to take time off to visit health facilities due to work, so it is important that we go to them,” he emphasized.
There were 235 patients who underwent eye screening; 39 patients underwent cataract surgery and 23 undertook pterygectomy [the process of removing pterygium (Surfer’s Eye) the tissue that covers the sclera. It is caused by excessive exposure to the wind and sun]. Free medicines and reading glasses were also given to patients who need corrective lenses for daily use.
According to Janairo, there has been no proven medication or eye drop to prevent or reverse the formation of a cataract. The only treatment for a cataract is surgical removal of the natural lens.
A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which lies behind the iris and the pupil. It is the most common cause of vision loss in people age 40 and above and the principal cause of blindness.
Common causes of cataracts include aging, result of an infection, injury, diabetes, or exposure to ultraviolet light, or radiation. Other risk may also include cigarette smoke, air pollution, and heavy drinking.
Based on the 2011 estimated population of 102 million, there are 592,000 Filipinos who are blind (prevalence of 0.58%); 2 million with moderate or severe visual impairment (or prevalence of 2.04%); 367,000 number of blind due to cataract (62%); 59,000 (10%) number of blind due to EOR (Errors of Refraction); and 92,000 (25%) number of blind from cataract below poverty line.
Under Philhealth Circular No. 16, series of 2009, the cataract surgery is still free in all accredited institutional and professional health care providers nationwide. Under the Cataract Package, P16,000 shall be shouldered by Philhealth regardless whether the procedure was done in one or both eyes in one operative session.
Director Janairo stressed the importance of preventive eye care against vision problems. “Have a periodic eye exam every 2-3 years, follow a healthy lifestyle, eat a nutritious diet for eyesight, wear sun visor or eye protection when involved in activities that may cause traumatic risk to your vision especially those who are in handling hazardous job like welding, hammering, etc.” he advised.
“Eyes as we say is our window to the world and it is important that we take good care of them.
Providing enough sleep and regular breaks while using computer of playing games helps keep your vision in good health,” he added.
The two-day event was done in partnership with ophthalmologists from the Pasig Lions Club a part of Lions Clubs International, a network of volunteers who also conducts vision screenings, eye operations and providing medicine and raising awareness on eye disease. (Glen Ramos/PR/DOH)