NO LESS than 5,000 Thomasians are suffering from various eye refraction errors despite the availability of treatment, the head of the UST Hospital Department of Ophthalmology said during the USTH’s observance of “Sight-Saving Month.”

In a program at the Angelo King Auditorium last August 5, Dr. Reynaldo Javate said that eye problems involving errors of refraction like near-sightedness, far-sightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia (far-sightedness due to old age) are common among Thomasians.

“There is a rising number of eye problems in UST which prompted us to encourage students to undergo eye screening,” Javate said. The good news is that students’ immediate family members may also avail themselves of certain discounts for treatments such as the Laser-Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis (Lasik).

Dr. Marcelino Banzon, president of the Philippine Academy of Ophthalmology, linked the surging number of young people affected by eye problems to prolonged use of computers.

“Teenagers constantly exposed to computer screen radiation become vulnerable to different eye problems,” Banzon said.

With cataract as one of the major causes of blindness among Filipinos according to the Third National Survey of Blindness in 2002, the Department of Health had adopted “Vision 2020,” a program initiated by World Health Organization (WHO) which aims to eliminate vision-impairing illnesses by year 2020.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III who attended the sight-saving month program, said that since Vision 2020’s launching in 2000, cataract operations have increased, at 75,000 operations in 2005, much higher than the 60,000 target set by the Philippine Blindness Control Program.

“The prevalence of blindness has been steadily decreasing and is now at 0.58 percent (around 500,000), just a small step away from the WHO target of 0.5 per cent,” Duque said.

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