The Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital Eye Department, in conjunction with the National Eye Health Program and a team of Australian doctors, examined and treated between 120 and 130 Cambodian children during a free four days which ended on October 6th. .
During the four days of examinations, parents and guardians from the provinces and the capital of Cambodia whose children have eye problems brought them to Phnom Penh for treatment.
A team of Cambodian and Australian doctors examined and treated 30 to 40 children each day.
Sok Kheng, director of the children’s ophthalmology unit, said the majority of patients suffered from refractive errors, which could be corrected with glasses.
Some of the common visual impairments that could be corrected with lenses included blurred vision and astigmatism.
“Besides the refractive errors, there were other problems, including a pronounced strabismus. Some of them were congenital and others developed when the children were two or three years old. The most serious problem we we met was in children with retinal detachment, which is usually associated with premature births and being underweight,” she said.
She explained that premature or underweight infants need oxygen for a long time, which challenges an eye condition called retinopathy of prematurity. Children born prematurely or who are underweight should have their eyes examined no later than six months after birth to ensure that they do not need treatment for this condition.
“We have also seen many cases linked to cataracts in premature babies. Additionally, we found cataracts that were the result of accidents or congenital diseases. We also found deficiency issues related to genetics,” she added.
Chhin Chanthyda, 40, from Svay Chrum township, Khsach Kandal district, Kandal province, brought her premature son for treatment, saying he was born in the sixth month of her pregnancy in a private maternity ward and then kept in an incubator for 12 days.
Doctors told her that due to oxygen deprivation her son was unlikely to survive, but he was treated at Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital and was now seven months old.
She said Kanthan Bopha’s doctor told her to have her son’s eyes checked at the Khmer-Soviet hospital and she was grateful for the efforts of the Cambodian and Australian doctors who examined her son.
Although the infant could not see at all at the start of his treatment, he had regained his sight. With further treatment, she was confident he would regain perfect vision.
Ngo Gechhong, 42, from Siem Reap heard about the possibility of being treated by the Australian-Cambodian team and brought his 11-year-old daughter for treatment. Kimchou, her daughter, has clear vision in one eye and blurry vision in the other – commonly known as lazy eye or amblyopia.
She said she hoped that after the treatment, her daughter’s eyesight would be clearer.
Kimchou described her excitement at being able to enjoy the books.
Nguon Ratha, 35, from Svay Rieng province, told the Post that both of her daughter’s eyes had a pronounced squint. The doctors had given her good advice and she expected her daughter’s condition to improve.
Meanwhile, Un Chetra, 50, from Koh Kong province, said her daughter lost concentration in one eye after swimming in the sea. When she goes to school, she cannot see the blackboard clearly, which makes learning difficult.
“My child has a lot of difficulty studying. I hope this treatment will restore her sight, so she can catch up on school,” she said.
In addition to working with this team of Australians, the Khmer-Soviet hospital also regularly cooperates with other institutions. They currently work with Sight For All of Australia, an eye health project that not only focuses on pediatric treatment, but also eye problems such as glaucoma and retinal detachment in adults.
Kheng reminded parents that if a baby is born prematurely or underweight, they should bring him in for a retinal scan one month after birth.