Take advantage of BCVI monthly Eye Exams
Monday, October 12th, 2015
On Wednesday, October 7th, The Belize Council for the Visually Impaired (BCVI) held its monthly eye exam at the Lions Den in San Pedro Town. From 8Am to 2PM, many island residents took advantage of the free service. Even though the exam, which takes place every first Wednesday of each month, is free of charge, patients are still required to pay for glasses and eye drops.
The BCVI provides these types of exams countrywide, and has been coming to San Pedro for the past six years. Optometrist Rita Witzil explained the importance of the program and why people need to check their eyes more often. “Our main objective is to prevent blindness, which is avoidable, by offering this free service. Many people cannot afford to go to a private doctor so we come here to offer our free service to everybody. This service is available to all ages from small babies to the oldest person,” stated Witzil.
Due to the proximity to the sea and clear sunny weather, Witzil elaborated on the common eye diseases they have encountered on the island. “The eye disease we mainly see in San Pedro is ’pterygium’ which is the growth on the conjunctiva that lines the inside of the eyelids and covers the sclera (white part of the eye) and this comes after too much exposure to the sun, low humidity and dust. We notice a lot of people on the island who do not use sunshades and this is the main factor for this disease,” ended Witzil.
The signs and symptoms of this disease include persistent redness in the eyes, inflammation, foreign body sensation, tearing, dry and itchy eyes. If the case is advanced, the pterygium can affect vision, as it invades the cornea with the potential of obscuring the optical centre of the cornea and inducing astigmatism and corneal scarring.
It is recommended that everyone take advantage of this monthly service and get an eye exam. In many cases, there are eye diseases that do not show any signs and an early diagnosis can only be delivered through an eye test. It is also recommended that people living in San Pedro should use sunglasses more frequently, especially on hot, clear, sunny days, to protect the eyes from direct sunlight.
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