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Fred Hollows Foundation extends support for vision impaired   

The Fred Hollows Foundation will continue to support work to improve the vision of people in 10 provinces of Laos, aiming to give them a better quality of life.
The Fred Hollows Foundation, government officials and authorities met in Vientiane last week to report on the results of the Sustainable Comprehensive Eye Care project from 2014- 2018 and make plans for the future.
The eye care project is taking place in provinces including Luang Prabang, Oudomxay, Khammuan, Luang Namtha, Savannakhet and Bokeo, with support from The Fred Hollows Foundation.
The project has resulted in eye doctors and nurses improving their skills, while the authorities have improved relevant infrastructure. New medical equipment has been provided and people in these provinces have received cataract surgery and treatment.
Ophthalmologist Dr Phetsamone Indara, who is working in Oudomxay province, told Vientiane Times yesterday that most of the eye conditions that are treated involve cataracts. Each year, about 300 people in Oudomxay province go blind because of cataracts. If people don’t get the necessary treatment, the rate of blindness will increase.
There are many challenges in the effort to treat people with this condition. Although most people in rural areas have cataracts, some are unable to visit a doctor because travel is difficult and their homes are a long way from a hospital. Some people cannot afford it, while others don’t have any relatives who can take them to a hospital, Dr Phetsamone said.
Meanwhile, district hospitals don’t have specialist eye doctors and cataracts can only be treated at the provincial hospital.
In 2018, more than 400 people in Oudomxay province had cataract surgery, he added.
A representative of Vientiane provincial hospital, Ms Chanphengmany Misy, said that last year at least 420 people in the province had cataract treatment and surgery.
One of the challenges in treating eye conditions is that communication between the authorities and people in rural areas is difficult because most people living in rural areas belong to ethnic groups.
Some people are poorly informed about eye health and lack information because road access to villages in rural areas is very difficult, Ms Chanphengmany added.
Although cataracts are very common and can result in blindness, people’s sight can be saved if they get treatment.
Cataracts are common among people aged over 60. The condition is also more likely to occur in people who have diabetes, have suffered an eye injury, or whose parents had cataracts, Dr Phetsamone said.
People aged over 50 should have their eyes examined every three months and those who spend a long time outside should wear sunglasses to protect their eyes, he advised.
People with eye problems should not attempt to self-medicate but should see an eye specialist. Dr Phetsamone Indara is available on 020 22203708 to provide more information.
The Fred Hollows Foundation will continue its work to support eye health in the 10 target provinces during 2019-2020.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update August 12, 2019)

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