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  Child issues

Project’s vision offers young children a second chance

Doctors at the Central Eye Hospital operate on a young patient thanks to a new programme helping to restore vision in children.

Nguyen Van Hieu, who suffered from congenital strabismus (a squinting eye), was operated on for free at Quang Tri Province’s General Hospital thanks to an eye surgery project funded by Unilever Co.

Dr Nguyen Thi Tam, head of the hospital’s children’s opthamology department, said that last month’s operation helped the eight-year-old boy improve his vision.

The doctor said Hieu was among 66 patients who have received surgery at Quang Tri General Hospital in the first eight months of this year under the VND1.5 billion (US$95,000) project.

Strabismus, or squint, is a common disease in children. Central Eye Hospital in Ha Noi has reported that 4 per cent of newborn babies were affected by squinting eye, causing impairment and confusion of vision.

Commonly, squint-eyed children have been discovered early by their parents, the doctor said. Children at the age of one month discovered to be affected by squint should be brought to the hospital quickly.

"Eye doctors will examine the child and determine a suitable treatment," said Tam, "whether wearing glasses, taking medication or receiving an operation."

She said earlier treatment for children with squint was good because recovery of vision would be quicker and better.

Begun in 2002, the eye surgery programme called For the Vision of Children, implemented with the support of the National Fund for Vietnamese Children, has given free eye surgery to 550 children across the country. Areas that have received funds include Lai Chau Province (providing care to 72 patients over the past three years), Thai Binh (155 patients), Kien Giang (145), and Ha Noi (37), as well as Quang Tri (141).

Fund director Vu Anh Dao said the programme had benefitted numbers of needy children.

"The result of the eye surgery programme has been good in both quality and quantity," Dao said. "The project is now targeting to treat 320 additional patients this year."

In Ha Noi, doctors of the Central Eye Hospital said the number of newborn babies who suffered innate cataracts and premature retinas was still high. Dr Vu Thi Bich Thuy, head of the hospital’s children’s opthamology department, said many patients came from poor families, so charity surgery programmes like For the Vision of Children filled a considerable need.

Vietnamnews - (31/08/2005)

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