About 17,000 people in Eastern Region are blind – Survey

A survey conducted by the Eye Department of the Koforidua Regional Hospital indicated that about 17,000 people in the Eastern Region are blind, with half of them being caused by cataract.

Ms Augustina Nartey, Eastern Regional Health Promotion Officer, told journalists in Koforidua, on Friday, as part of the national activities marking this year’s World Sight Day to be held in Koforidua on October 13.

The provisional data for the 2010 census puts the population of the Eastern Region at 2,596,013, with 1,343,325 being females. The population of males is 1,252,688.

The World Sight Day is aimed at raising awareness that about 75 per cent of blindness could be prevented. It is also to encourage governments, organizations and individuals to work towards the prevention of global blindness.

Experts define cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision.  Though most cataracts are related to aging with many older people becoming victims by age 80, there are also other cataracts that can affect people in any age group.

A cataract can occur in either or both eyes but it cannot spread from one eye to the other.
The lens is a clear part of the eye that helps to focus light, or an image, on the retina. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye.   In a normal eye, light passes through the transparent lens to the retina. Once it reaches the retina, light is changed into nerve signals that are sent to the brain.  The lens must be clear for the retina to receive a sharp image. If the lens is cloudy from a cataract, the image you see will be blurred.

The theme for the year celebration is: “Reducing Blindness, the importance of Eye Care in National Development.”

Mr Prince Asenso Antwi, of the Low Vision Centre of the Koforidua Regional Hospital, said there was no first aid for eye disease and, therefore, urged people who have eye problems to see a clinician

He, consequently, advised against putting herbal concoctions into the eyes as first aid.

He observed that in recent times one of the major causes of eye problems is life style and urged people to take balanced diets to avoid eye problems.

Mr Antwi explained that the eye forms part of the body system, therefore, anything that affects the health of the body also affects the eye and advised people to stop using eye drugs prescribed for their relations.

Mr Antwi urged those above 60 years to visit the eye specialists once every month to check their eyes.

He said radiation from the television sets and computers could affect the eye and, consequently, advised people watching television not to switch off their lights so that the lights would neutralize the radiation.

As part of the activities towards the day, eye screening exercises are being held at the Koforidua Regional, Suhum and Nsawam Government hospitals, the Presbyterian Hospital and the Donkorkrom Hospital towards free cataract surgeries.

About 400 cataract operations are expected to be performed in the Eastern Region alone.

Although most cataracts are related to aging, there are other types of cataract.

Cataracts can form after surgery for other eye problems, such as glaucoma. Cataracts also can develop in people who have other health problems, such as diabetes.

They are sometimes linked to steroid use.

Traumatic cataracts can develop after an eye injury, sometimes years later, while congenital cataracts refers to those in babies born with cataracts or developing in childhood, often in both eyes.

These cataracts may be so small that they do not affect vision. If they do, the lenses may need to be removed.

Radiation cataract can develop after exposure to some types of radiation.

Cataracts can be removed through simple surgical operations.

Source: GNA

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