RESEARCH OVERVIEW AND RECOMMENDATION
Throughout the 1st year of the life, as a child grows and develops so will their vision. A baby’s eyes will be checked at birth and during well-baby visit throughout the 1st year. Babies usually see movement before anything else.
Full term babies should be able to see their mother’s facial expression within a week of birth.
Colour vision and depth prescription are not yet fully developed at this stage and eye muscles coordination is also very immature. Babies often have eyes that are turned in, turned out or not working as a team, a condition known as strabismus. This condition normally poses a problem and needs consultation if it doesn’t resolve itself by the age of three or four months. It is recommended that all babies should receive an infant eye examination by an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
As a child advances in age, crouching rather than early walking is encouraged to help the child develop eye-hand coordination. From ages 3 to 6 (Preschool) the child will be fine-tuning the vision already developed during the infant and toddler years. Older pre-schoolers are learning how to use sports equipment and working on their fine motor skills. Our studies reveal that farsightedness and strabismus are common problems with this age group, also common are related pathological problems due to environment (e.g. trachoma). Therefore, the general; public especially parents should be made to understand the basics at children’s eye health so they might detect any problems early and address them before they become serious.
As stated before most of these vision problems are symptoms-less and pain free that is why many developing countries and developed countries adopt vision screening and examination as a way to checkmate this problem.
The America Optometric Association and the American Public Health Association recommend comprehensive vision examinations for all children starting at 6 months of age and at regular intervals thereafter, while the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Academy of Paediatricians support and in vision screening for all children by age 3 and at regular intervals thereafter. Countries like U.S.A, Malawi, and Bolivia etc all have adopted this practice and by this means have saved millions of sight. Many authorities have stated also the importance of vision examination before a child enters school. They are:
Dr Andrea Thau:
“Eye exams are important as immunization before a child starts school”
“Many children who are frustrated in school simply aren’t able to see well. Unless their vision problem is diagnosed and corrected, the child may…..never develop into a productive students”
“Making a child’s first test a vision test will prepare children to enter school, ready to gain the knowledge and skills that will remain with them their entire lives”
“How well a child can see will have a great impact on how much and /or how quickly they will learn”.
According to our studies most of the vision problems encountered in the field, it had detected early through eye examinations during preschool age could have been prevented, thereby making the students to be more productive in classroom activities. Hence it is imperative and recommended that children should undergo a comprehensive eye examination before starting school, for it allows enough time to catch and correct any problems while the visual systems is still flexible.
From our studies, nearly 3/5 of the children who were screened and returned for further examination did not receive the recommended follow-up care. This reason was attributed to the cost of full examination obtainable eye clinics. Distance to approved eye clinics was also seen as a hitch to the cases. This, therefore necessitates the need to have regular programme, (for instance, annually) for proper management and follow-up of cases elicited in the field.
Our findings has shown that vision screening miss 1 out of every 3 children with vision problem. Eye examination pick up all the problems vision screening miss. It is important to note that a comprehensive eye examination be adopted in order to have a 100% elucidation of the vision problems that live with our school children.
Findings from our field work revealed that some of the pathological disorders were attributable to vitamin A deficiency. Many world bodies, organisation and governments have mapped out programs on vitamin A supplement. Exemplary programs are such obtainable in Cameroon, Ghana, Bolivia and Malawi etc. were international Eye Foundation (IEF) in collaboration with their governments distribute vitamin A capsules to tens of thousands of children. Vitamin A is essential to healthy eyesight and general eye health. Exophthalmia, a blinding eye condition caused of blindness in children in the developing world. It causes a severe dry eye so severe in fact that the cornea at the front of the eye can become ulcerated and scarred Blindness follows. More than half the children under age who go blind from exophthalmia but from complications associated with vitamin A deficiency. These include measles, acute respiratory infections and diarrheal diseases. Considering the present economic situation in the country many homes do not take cognizance to the quality of food they take, but lay emphasis on the quantity. This leaves the body lacking in the major vitamins necessary for daily body metabolism. Children are the most disadvantaged. Therefore, it is of great importance to run a program in which vitamin A capsules will be distributed periodically to school children especially in the rural areas in order to prevent childhood blindness.
According to the American Optometric Association 70-75% of computer workers experience eye and vision problems. This condition includes blurry vision, sore and tired eyes and neck and shoulder pain, is known as computer eye strain or computer vision syndrome. Our findings reveal that computer eye strain affects children as well it is believed that is contributed to the development of myopia or near sightedness. Considering the present input of computer education and usage in the primary and secondary schools, there is that need for regular comprehensive eye examination.
While many eye problems can only be detected by an eye doctor, teachers, often are the first to notice poor vision in a child. There is that need to organise a training workshop for teachers; -educating them on the pre-diagnosis and general management of children with poor vision. Teachers are meant to know the tell-tale signs of vision problems, for early detection and correction. In managing these students to ensure best vision condition, the teachers should have in their minds certain questions like:
-Is there proper lightening in the classroom?
-Do the children with eyeglasses actually wear them?
-When the children are at the computer, are they sitting at the recommended distance from the monitor? Etc.
With these basic knowledge teachers with the 6-7 active hours they spend with these children daily, stand to play their vital role in aiding them with their vision problems.
Sports- related eye injuries are becoming prevalent and almost all are preventable by protective eye wear. Children are especially vulnerable to an eye injury because they don’t know that their vision and possibly a lifetime of healthy vision is at stake. For children, eye injuries happen mainly while playing. It is important that they should wear eye protection for any sports and recreational activities that uses a projective or racket, or invoices rough contact with other players.
It is observed that at every stage in a child’s growth and development needs a constant check on the visual development, for early detection and correction. Emphasis is being made on this regular check.
Many of the students and especially in the rural, community as well as their relatives, are ignorant of simple eye care hygiene. There is a need for an intensive and sustained enlightenment campaign to educate people on simple eye care routines and management. This will go a long way in curbing most vision problems. This campaign could be achieved through posters, handbills and radio jingles in English and other languages.
Our findings revealed that constant that reading under dim illumination, as obtained in the rural areas, due to inconsistent power supply Predisposes these students to vision problems. Government should therefore look into the possibility of providing small diesel power generating plants for better reading condition and also to make effective the periodic eye examination treatment and management as to when sustained.
In addition in view of the fact that thousands of students gain admission each year into secondary schools, it should be an annual vision programme so that this category can be reached.
This could be adopted as a criterion for entering into school.