BY MIKE TUA
A person would expect eye doctors to be able to diagnose diabetic retinopathy or cataracts [eye diseases] but might be surprised about other kinds of illnesses an eye examination could reveal.
Dr. Claude Posala, Head of the newly-opened Regional Eye Center in Honiara said there’s a lengthy list of conditions that eye doctors can help to spot, including diabetes, high blood pressure, brain tumors, and cancer.
“At the moment we have a special camera that can take the image of an eye to enable us for further analysis or examinations that can identify if a person has developed diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, and other complications.
“The first place to check for any form of diseases in the body is through the examination of the eye because more diseases can be revealed,” he said.
Bleeding spots and other indicators of disease are often picked up during a dilated eye exam; typically, eye drops are given to widening the pupils to get a good look inside the eye and to examine the patient’s retina and optic nerves.
He said the Centre recommends a comprehensive eye exam sooner if you have a known eye disease or a risk factor for one, such as diabetes, high blood pressure because the goal is to identify signs of eye disease early, receive proper treatment and make helpful lifestyle changes.
“If you notice any problems for examples such as decreased vision or experience poor visibility, painful/watery eye, injured eye or if you have a diabetes problem because it sends a signal of symptoms. “If you’re having symptoms, don’t ignore it — just seek help,” he said.
“If you’re not seeing well, that’s not due to aging. If you’re not seeing or experiencing those symptoms you must come for an eye check-up.
“There are no other parts of the body you can see from outside of the body but only through the eye when examinations are done,” he said.
The new facility has state-of-the-art equipment – it is equipped with modern eye treatment equipment which is world standard.
Dr. Posala stressed the importance of eye checks or screening as a necessary step to maintain a healthy eye status.
“Having a first eye check is necessarily very important especially early in life or in your youth age at least we must set a baseline. Eye check is very important because sometimes a child might probably be born with an eye problem condition but we might not notice it until he/she reaches adulthood.
“If you check your eye and it is normal then you don’t need to check again unless you feel your eye vision is blurry or painful then you can come again for an eye examination.
“However, it’s advisable not that necessary to check your eyes every year or on a routine basis unless they are a problem because there are no adverse risk effects if you don’t check your eyes more often,” he added.
Meanwhile, he said that cultural practices are also a major challenge for most Solomon Islanders when it comes to genuine medical check-ups.
“For example, in our cultural background, we normally experience an illness before going for medical check-ups. Our culture speaks volumes that most times we go for a medical check-up only when we experience a health problem,” he said.
He also explained the common surgeries performed on patients with eye-related diseases in the past and present times in the country.
“We have done many eye surgeries in the past already until now. We normally perform cataract surgeries, eye injury surgeries for repair purposes, pterygium surgeries for abnormal growth to the eye, and others.
“However cataract surgeries are common at the moment because we have more people with such eye problem conditions.
“Compared to the past and present, we will increase or double more eye surgeries with the new Centre,” he added.