Bleaching; potential cause of irreversible blindness in unborn babies 

Bleaching has the potential to cause irreversible blindness to unborn babies, the Ghana Optometric Association (GOA) has revealed and advised pregnant women to desist from bleaching both the skin and hair. 

The GOA Public Relations Officer, Dr Alfred Gardemor, said bleaching products contain chemicals that could go a long way to have effects on the unborn baby, stressing that high doses of chemicals contained in such products when engrossed into the skin could cause harm to both the pregnant woman and the unborn baby. 

 Dr. Gardemor who is a Principal Optometrist and Head of the Optometric Centre at the Nsawam Government Hospital said this at the sixth Ghana News Agency-Tema Regional Office and the Ghana Optometric Association fortnightly public sensitisation initiative “GNA-GOA: My Eye! My Vision! 

The fortnight initiative is a collaborative public education advocacy campaign to promote the need for people to access eye care and to draw attention to vision health. 

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 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. 

Dr Gardemor who spoke on the topic, “Children’s Vision and Eye Health,” explained that pregnancy changed the hormone level and could make the skin more sensitive than normal leading the skin to react to certain chemicals applied to the body. 

He said chemicals in bleaching cosmetics could cause inflammation, scarring, and abnormalities among newborn babies if used during pregnancy and breastfeeding.  He noted that during the process of bleached hair, some of the harmful substances penetrate the skin to the body and that could go a long way to affect the baby. 

Dr Gardemor said it could lead to premature babies, giving birth to babies with low birth weight, taking longer to conceive, and pregnancy loss.  He added that skin bleaching agents increase the susceptibility to infections and viruses making it easy for the skin to react. 

He expressed concern that most eye infections among babies were usually not detected early and led to key issues during the growth of the child. 

 “If you are pregnant the chemical you apply gets to the baby, and anything that you take, because of the placenta, whatever the mother takes the baby will take because of that connection and that goes into the baby’s bloodstream,” he stated. 

 He cautioned pregnant women to avoid using chemicals that would be harmful to themselves and the babies in their wombs. 

An optometrist at the Third Eye Care and Vision Centre,Dr Kwame Oben-Nyarko,stated that protecting the eyes from exposure to direct contact with several environmental factors which could be detrimental to your eyes was recommended.

  He said the use of spectacles can also be used for the correction of several conditions including doubling of vision and latent and manifest deviations of the eyes. 

Dr Obeng-Nyarko speaking on: “Acquiring a pair of spectacles: What you need to know” explained that it may sound like an easy task but there are several factors that need to be considered before a spectacle is dispensed. 

  He identified some of the factors as professionals responsible for dispensing spectacles; places to acquire it; the processes involved; different spectacle options available depending on the unique needs of the individual and diverse types of materials used for making lenses and frames. 

 Others include the accessories for spectacles and the cleaning processes of spectacles.  -GNA 

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