Over the past five years, almost 10,000 patients reported to the emergency unit for eye trauma that may have physical, emotional or financial impact.
Eye trauma is a major cause of permanent vision loss with most of these incidents stemming from the construction sector.
Myopia, or near-sightedness, linked to excessive screen use and low activities outside of home, is also a risk factor for future vision problems such as glaucoma, cataracts and retinal problems resulting in irreversible vision loss, shared consultant ophthalmologist and President of the Brunei Ophthalmology Society Dr Hajah Helena binti Pehin Orang Kaya Setia Jaya Dato Paduka Haji Hurairah.
She said this during an event to mark World Sight Day 2022, held in conjunction with the 12th Asia-Pacific Eye Care Week.
She said, “To have better mental health, we practise self-care. To have better physical health, we eat healthy and exercise. To have oral health, we brush our teeth daily.”
For eye care, she shared six tips. Dr Hajah Helena said good eye health begins with good nutrition rich in omega-3, lutein and zinc as well as vitamins C and E.
These prevent eye problems such as cataracts and macular degeneration, she said.
She said a healthy diet is also beneficial in avoiding non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and excessive cholesterol, all of which can result in vision-threatening complications.
Another tip is to stop smoking. The consultant ophthalmologist said smokers have a high risk of developing eye problems including glaucoma and optic nerve damage.
Dr Hajah Helena suggested the use of sunglasses to reduce ultra-violet (UV) ray exposure that accelerates cataract development and dry eyes. She said UV rays also causes warts and skin cancer.
The ophthalmology society president said eye protection should be used during hazardous work or during extreme sports.
She said 80 per cent of eye trauma can be avoided using adequate eye protection.
Dr Hajah Helena advises avoiding excessive screen time which causes eye strain, blurred vision, dry eyes and headaches. Eye clinic recommends 20:20:20 rule – after using a digital screen for 20 minutes, look at an object that is 20 feet away for 20 seconds. She also said since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a significant increase in children reporting near-sightedness.
The consultant ophthalmologist suggests regular eye examinations, especially if there’s family history of retinal problems.
Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar was the guest of honour in the event organised by the Ministry of Health (MoH) at the Eye Centre of Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital themed ‘Love Your Eyes’. The minister participated in an eye screening test using artificial intelligence.
Timor Leste Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam Abel Guterres, Permanent Secretary at the MoH Haji Maswadi bin Haji Mohsin, Acting Deputy Permanent Secretary (Professional) at the MoH Dr Ang Swee Hui, Deputy Permanent Secretary (Policy and Management) at the MoH Dr Hajah Anie Haryani binti Abdul Rahman and Acting Director General of Medical and Health Services Pengiran Dr Haji Md Khalifah bin Pengiran Haji Ismail were also present.