Mothers should avoid exposing their babies’ eyes to sunlight.

The Ghana Optometric Association (GOA) has advised parents of jaundiced babies to avoid exposing their children's eyes to the sun as a cure.

According to Dr. Alfred Gardemor, GOA Public Relations Officer, such methods might expose newborns’ eyes to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, with potentially harmful consequences.

Dr. Gardemor, a Senior Optometrist at the Nsawam Government Hospital, made the remarks at the fifth Ghana News Agency-Tema Regional Office and Ghana Optometric Association monthly public education effort “GNA-GOA: My Eye! My Vision!”

The biweekly joint public education advocacy campaign project aims to raise awareness about the need of getting eye care and to raise awareness about visual health.

The GNA-GOA: My Eyes! My Vision! The initiative also seeks to challenge the public and policymakers to focus on vision as a health issue, which forms a critical component of mankind’s wellbeing but is often neglected.

Speaking on the topic; “Children’s Vision and Eye Health”, Dr Gardemor said even though hitherto parents of children suffering from jaundice were advised to expose them to sun rays in the mornings by 1000 hours, the practice was now outmoded and seen to be problematic.

Dr Gardemor said it had been found that the children ended up with other conditions including sunburns as the sunrays were dangerous due to environmental changes which had depleted the ozone layer that used to protect humans from the direct effect of being exposed to the sun.

The GOA PRO said instead of doing so, parents must report jaundice symptoms early to the hospitals for treatment adding that less severe jaundice cases in neonatal were often treated using light therapy by putting the babies under UV lights at the hospital and being monitored.

Explaining what neonatal jaundice was, he said it was the yellow discoloration of a newborn baby’s skin and eyes, adding that it occurred because the baby’s blood contained an excess of bilirubin which was a yellow pigment of red blood cells.

Dr. Gardemor said because the liver of a newborn was not fully developed, it could not get rid of the excess waste (bilirubin) generated from the breakdown of the red blood cells which ended up affecting the skin and eyes and could also affect some other organs including the brain.

On other eye conditions children could suffer from, he mentioned amblyopia also known as lazy eye, allergies, refractive errors, and glaucoma among others and many children with eye disorders were yet to be identified and treated.

As a result, Dr. Gardemor advised parents to have their children’s eyes screened starting at the age of six months, with a second screening at one, three, and before pre-school to avoid future conditions and detect any anomalies early for correction, as some of the conditions could not be corrected with time.

Mr. Francis Ameyibor, Regional Manager of GNA-Tema, noted that the two professional organisations have decided to collaborate on a public awareness campaign named “GNA-GOA: My Eyes! My Visual” to raise awareness about vision health.

“We’re merging our professional callings as Optometric Physicians and Communication Experts to send a well-coordinated message to the public.”

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