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Eyes Right project helps pupils get glasses
Although cases of short-sightedness and vision impairment are increasing, ophthalmologist Dr Anirudh Mahabir says children have to wait up to four years to get a pair of glasses through public health institutions. He was speaking as the Rapid Fire Kids Foundation launched its Eyes Right project at Canton Palace Restaurant. The project distributes free eyeglasses to primary schoolchildren. Dr Mahabir said a child has to wait two years to get an appointment at the hospital and a further two years before getting a pair of glasses.
He also said there is a shortage of opticians in the Government service. “The reason is they make much more money outside in the private sector, so they are not giving any service to the Government, yet you have so many little children waiting for appointments,” Mahabir said. He also said that more people are becoming short-sighted. He attributed this to the fact that many parents prefer to keep their children indoors, watching television or playing on the computer, instead of taking part in outdoor activities.
“Studies show that when you spend more time outdoors, the chances of developing short-sightedness are reduced,” Mahabir said. He urged citizens to get their eyes tested. President of the foundation Kevin Ratiram said it was important to reduce childhood obesity in T&T. “Children depend on their parents for meals and snacks and therefore parents have a special responsibility to ensure that children eat healthy, exercise, and consume vitamins,” Ratiram said.
He added that unhealthy children become unhealthy adults, so it is important to encourage a healthy lifestyle from an early age. He also said the Government, police and the Children’s Task Force cannot solve the problem of child abuse. Instead, parents must instill proper values in their children. “People who abuse, rape and kill children were themselves children who were exposed to poor virtues,” Ratiram said.
Executive member of the foundation, Dean Frankie, said the Eyes Right project will cater to children from 500 schools. He said the foundation will liaise with officials of PTAs to screen the pupils.