PUTRAJAYA: Patients receiving assistance from the Social Welfare Department (SWD) have been exempted from making any payment to undergo cataract surgery, said Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
Under the the healthcare protection scheme for the low-income B40 group, known as Skim Peduli Kesihatan untuk Kumpulan B40 (PeKa B40), Dr Wan Azizah said the lens for cataract surgery would be free of charge, while the cost of surgery would be minimal, at only RM103.
While launching the national-level celebration of the World Sight Day 2019 here today, Dr Wan Azizah, who is also an ophthalmologist, said the awareness among the public to seek appropriate treatment in case of vision problems should be instilled.
“The negative stigma about eye surgery needs to be addressed so that patients can get proper treatment as soon as possible to prevent further deterioration of the sight due to fear of surgery,” she said.
She said the leading causes of blindness among Malaysians were cataract, at 58 per cent, diabetic retinopathy at 10 per cent and glaucoma at seven per cent.
Meanwhile, Dr Wan Azizah said the ‘Cataract Finder’ programme which was carried out at the Rumah Seri Kenangan on July 16 this year, had referred 21 of residents for further examination and treatment at the hospital.
Of the total, 18 were found to have cataract problems and to undergo surgery in the near future, said Dr Wan Azizah, who is also Women, Family and Community Development Minister.
The ‘Cataract Finder’ involves health practitioners to train private optometrists, opticians and community pharmacists on basic techniques for detecting vision problems.
Apart from urging for the Cataract Finder programme to be expanded to more senior care institutions and centres, Dr Wan Azizah also suggested that an eye health awareness programme be implemented at childcare centres to incorporate eye care awareness among children.
Later, during a press conference, Dr Wan Azizah said the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and Health Ministry would conduct a study on the effects of gadgets and sports activities related to myopia (near-sightedness) in children aged 12 and below, next year.
“The study aimed to find out whether or not there is a difference in refractive error among children from indoor and outdoor activities,” she said, explaining that indoor activities referred to playing with gadgets while outdoor activities involved physical or sporting activities.
She also advised parents to limit their children’s use of gadgets to less than two hours a day.
“It’s dangerous to have too many hours of screen time for kids. The retina is most sensitive, if the retina is out, the vision is out,” she said. – Bernama