Hong Kong Children Eye Programme

Hong Kong Children Eye Programme (Formerly known as Hong Kong Children Eye Screening Programme)

Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

We are fully committed to improve children eye care in Hong Kong. In March 2015, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences have started the first phase of Hong Kong Children Eye Programme to provide public education and free and comprehensive eye examinations to 3000 children aged 6-8 and their families in Hong Kong over a two-year period.

To date, we have organized 39 educational talks reaching 8000 public attendants. Also, we have offered free eye examinations to over 3800 children and their parents in CUHK Eye Centre, covering 7 different districts in Hong Kong, and we are currently serving the Tuen Mun District.

 

Background

Visual impairments in children are often unnoticed and can develop into serious and irreversible consequences that harm vision and disrupt quality of life. In fact, the first eight years of life is the “critical period” of visual development, many eye diseases (e.g Myopia, Amblyopia & Strabismus) are treatable and vision can thereby be preserved if detected early during the “critical period”.

In Hong Kong, there is a children vision screening programme for amblyopia and other eye diseases offered by the Government. Unfortunately, it is grossly inadequate due to constraints in resources. Furthermore, management of myopia and its progression are expensive and only provided in private sector.

Based on a pilot survey conducted in 2013 by our CUHK Eye Centre for 700 children and their parents, we revealed a strikingly high prevalence (30%) of vision impairment in children from low income families, and that these families had poor knowledge and low awareness of eye diseases. Therefore we have commenced our community eye screening program (Hong Kong Children Eye Programme) in March 2015 to provide comprehensive eye screening to children in Hong Kong.

 

Hong Kong Children Eye Programme

The major components of the programme include:

(1) Comprehensive Eye Examinations

(2) Public Education Talks

(3) Certificate Training Workshops and Voluntary Platforms

(1) Comprehensive Eye Examinations

A series of examinations are conducted for the participating children, including ophthalmologist consultation, visual acuity, auto refraction, 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 paediatric corneal diseases and hereditary retina diseases, which are usually hard to discover.

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.

Progress and Update

We have provided 738 children from Wan Chai, 537 from Yuen Long and Tin Shui Wai Districts, 664 from Sham Shui Po District, 510 from Kowloon City District, 484 from Kwun Tong District and 238 from Shatin District. We are currently serving the Shatin District and will be further expanding to Tuen Mun District in our next stage.

Observations and Treatments

From the Hong Kong Children Eye Programme we have conducted so far, 35% of them suffered from myopia, and examination all were prescribed with spectacles. Detailed education counselling was provided to all families for methods preventing myopia progression, including increasing outdoor activities and restraining the use of electronic devices. Among them, 400 children were offered treatment with low dose atropine eye drops in our CUHK-Eye Centre with subsidy, with alarmingly success for the myopia control. Furthermore, we found that 40% of them have ocular allergy and were offered eye drops for allergic eye disease and behavioural adjustment; 4% of them with lazy eye and patching therapy was offered; 5% of them with squint, with further referral and management; and 4% of them with color insufficiency and counselling was provided. Children with other eye diseases requiring surgical therapy, such as congenital cataract, congenital ptosis, inherited retinal diseases, was referred promptly to respective cluster of Hospital Authority for further management.

 (2) Public Education Talks

To increase public awareness in children eye health, we have organized 27 health talks to parents and public in primary schools and community halls, as well as 4 education workshops to volunteers and social workers, outreaching over 7000 public attendants. Educational Materials are distributed to further consolidate their understanding and awareness of children eye diseases.

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(3) Certificate Training Workshops and Voluntary Platforms

To further empower the society in advocating proactive and preventive children eye care in Hong Kong, we recruited voluntary workers from all levels of society (e.g. secondary school students, undergraduate medical students, youths and retired people) into our programme. Over 70 undergraduate medical students, 120 secondary school students and 50 other voluntary workers, from youths to retired, have joined us as volunteers.

Undergraduate Medical Students

Up to now, over 70 medical students from both Chinese University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong University have joined us to perform eye examinations under our supervision to children and parents during our Saturday’s eye screening programme, with very positive feedbacks. We provided them a platform for clinical investigations with hands-on experience, direct patient care and research experience. Certificates have been awarded to the volunteer students in recognition to their contributions in our programme.

In addition, we have organized a range of training workshops and ophthalmic lectures to equip them with basic knowledge of ophthalmology as well as technical skills in performing machine-based eye investigations.

Secondary School Students

Over 120 secondary school students have joined our programme to conduct simple tests and provide general logistics support in our Saturday’s eye screening programme. They interact with our ophthalmic staff and medical students to help taking care of the primary school children coming for the examinations.

Certificates are awarded to them as “Hong Kong Children Eye Care Student Ambassador” and the programme was incorporated to their “Other Learning Experiences (OLE)” in the school curriculum.

Other Voluntary Workers

More than 50 volunteers from youths, adults to retired people recruited via different Non-government Organizations have been helping with our Saturday screening sessions.

If you are also interested to join our voluntary group, please do not hesitate to contact Miss Justee Chow at 3943 5898 for further information.

Award Ceremony

Dr Kam Tutor