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Retinal Cameras Can Help Fight Avoidable Blindness

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KUALA LUMPUR – The donation of two Retinal Cameras by Standard Chartered Scope International (M) Sdn Bhd and other additional screening equipment will contribute significantly in the treatment of various retinal diseases, said Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya.

Dr Hilmi said the cameras, worth RM150,000, would be used to spearhead and pioneer the Retinal Disease Awareness Programme (RDAP) in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, after which the programme would be implemented throughout the country.

“In retinal disease, screening is much more difficult, as the retina is at the back of the eye and cannot be easily visualised. Internationally, it has been well-established, that the retinal camera is a highly effective and decisive tool to screen retinal disease,” he said at the launching of Standard Chartered RDAP 2015 and the camera handing ceremony at Selayang Hospital, here today.

Also present were Selayang Hospital Director Dr Siti Zaleha Mohd Salleh, National Head of Ophthalmology Services Dr Nor Fariza Ngah, Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Mahendra Gursahani and Standard Chartered Scope International (M) Sdn Bhd, CEO Kwan Chee Sun.

RDAP is a programme in which eye specialists, optometrists, paramedics and primary care doctors from the ministry would join forces with Standard Chartered to hold a series of retinal disease screening throughout 2015 and 2016 to identify those with diabetic retinopathy.

The two-year programme has set a target of screening 10,000 potential patients with diabetes from the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and other rural areas of Malaysia.

Dr Hilmi said, in Malaysia about half a million diabetic patients suffered from some form of retinopathy, where he said, if left untreated, could lead to permanent and irreversible blindness.

“Diabetic retinopathy is known worldwide to be a major cause of irreversible and permanent blindness. In patients with diabetes mellitus, continuous high blood sugar levels will cause the blood vessels in the retina to narrow, bleed or leak,” he said while expressing gratitude towards Standard Chartered for its commitment in the project.

Meanwhile, Kwan said 2,000 of its staff volunteers would take part in the programme where they would be joining representatives from the hospital at primary care centers to go on road shows and to connect with potential patients on a weekly basis.

“We hope that with the inclusion of the tools and additional manpower, we are able to make a positive impact on the local community to reflect our commitment towards the bank’s global initiative ‘Seeing Is Believing’, that aims to tackle avoidable blindness and visual impairment,” he said. – BERNAMA

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