CUHK Launches Vision Screening for Hong Kong Children
The Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences of the Faculty of Medicine at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has been conducting a two-year Hong Kong Children Eye Study since March 2015 to provide free comprehensive vision screening for 3,000 children aged six to eight in Hong Kong. Aside from detecting common eye diseases through eye examinations, environmental, lifestyle, and nutritional data of the children are also collected. Most importantly, health information is provided to parents for their children’s better eye care.
Screening programmes are held at the Chinese University Eye Centre every Saturday, with 40 students per day. A series of examinations are conducted for the participating children, including ophthalmologist consultation, visual acuity, autorefraction, cycloplegic refraction, cover/uncover test, ocular biometry intraocular pressure measurement, prism bar cover/uncover test, stereopsis, slit lamp, fundus examination, anterior segment OCT for corneal thickness, HRA OCT for macular thickness and retinal nerve fiber layer thickness. Most of the ocular diseases can be detected through the screening programme, such as refractive errors (myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism), strabismus, amblyopia, allergic eye diseases, and colour deficiency as well as pediatric corneal diseases and hereditary retina diseases, which are usually hard to discover.
Dr. Jason Yam, an assistant professor from the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, CUHK states, ‘The first eight years are the most critical for ocular development, as the visual system completes its development during this period. Therefore, it is important to conduct a comprehensive vision screening for children before the age of eight. If amblyopia and other diseases are detected and treated properly, permanent visual damage can be prevented.’
The first phase of the study has taken place in Wan Chai. With the support from the Wan Chai District Council in coordinating various organisations in the district, including the Hong Kong Society for the Blind, Wanchai District Head Masters' Conference and the Methodist Center, 738 children had undergone eye examinations.
Dr. Jeffrey Pong, the President of the Hong Kong Society for the Blind says, ‘From the Children Eye Study in Wan Chai, it is revealed that 4% of the participating children have amblyopia, strabismus or color deficiency, and 32% are myopic. The Chinese University Eye Clinic provided the latest spectacle prescriptions for parents whose children have myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. Children with amblyopia, strabismus, and other eye diseases were treated immediately and promptly referred to specialists for follow up.’
Mr. Suen Kai Cheong, the President of the Wan Chai District Council, greatly appreciates the efforts from all organisations involved. He says, ‘Through the support from the Society for the Blind, the Hong Kong Aided Primary School Head Association (Wan Chai) and the Methodist Center, the programme was able to run smoothly. This programme is very important for Wan Chai’s residents, benefiting more than 700 children in the area. Apart from examining our children’s ocular health, the programme enhances our residents’ medical knowledge and awareness. The research study not only advocates children’s eye development, but also strengthens the relationship between CUHK’s academic department and our community. We anticipate seeing the Hong Kong Children Eye Study expand to other districts, benefiting more children and families.’
The Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, CUHK will launch the eye study in Yuen Long and Tin Shui Wai in September for 300 children in the area, and expand the study to other districts in 2016. The Department will analyse the examination results and data collected, in order to further promote paediatric ophthalmology development in Hong Kong.