In recognition of World Sight Day, Hamad Medical Corporation’s Dr Deena Safwan Zeedan, Resident Ophthalmologist, is encouraging Qatar’s residents to schedule an eye examination in order to help prevent avoidable blindness.

Dr Zeedan said:

Although the number of patients suffering from blindness caused by infections has decreased significantly during the past 20 years, 285 million patients still suffer from vision impairment worldwide. Out of these patients, 39 million are completely blind.’

World Sight Day is an annual global awareness event that takes place on the second Tuesday of October and is designed to increase awareness about blindness and vision impairment. Dr Zeedan said:

Many people associate vision impairment with old age, but there are over 19 million blind children all over the world, and many of these cases could have been prevented through regular checkups.’

HMC provides a screening program for all infants born at Women’s Hospital and advises that children have follow-up screenings at age 6 months, age three, during preschool and a yearly screening once in school. Dr Zeedan says that awareness is the first step to preventing avoidable vision impairment. She said:

Overall, 80% of all vision impairment is preventable, and our role is to educate people about that. Our department regularly sends teams to schools in order to educate students about eye health.’

According to Dr Zeedan, the most common vision impairment problems seen in Qatar include glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy. She says awareness, prevention and regular check-ups are the best options for people with a high risk of vision impairment, such as individuals living with diabetes. Dr Zeedan said:

When it comes to preserving your vision, early detection is the solution. Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most common vision impairments worldwide and in the Middle East statistics show that the percent of patients suffering from diabetic retinopathy is likely to increase from 20% to 25%. This disease can lead to blindness, but it is preventable if diabetic patients follow a healthy lifestyle and control their blood sugar levels.’

In recent years HMC has increased access to eye care services across the country. Outpatient and emergency care services are offered at Hamad General Hospital and ophthalmology surgeries are performed at Rumailah Hospital’s inpatient department. General and specialized clinics are also located at Al Khor, Al Wakra and The Cuban Hospitals. According to Dr Zeedan, a new ophthalmology clinic was recently opened at Al Wakra hospital so that people living in the southern area, including Al Wakra, Mesaieed and surrounding communities, have easier and more convenient access to ophthalmology services, rather than having to drive all the way to Doha, the capital city of Qatar.