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World Sight Day today: Only 54 eye doctors in Ghana


Ghana will join other countries today, Thursday October 13 2011to celebrate World Sight Day.

The Day will this year be used to create public awareness and the need for stakeholders to take action to reduce eyesight impairment.

This year?s celebration would be held at Koforidua in the Eastern Region under the theme- ?Reducing Blindness: The Importance of Eye Care in National Development?.

The Head of Eye Care Unit at the Ghana Health Services, (GHS), Dr. Oscar Afari Debrah said it is crucial for eye care to be seen as a public health and socio-economic problem.

With a Biblical turn of phrase, he said, ?The eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness? (Matthew 6:22-23).

Dr. Debrah disclosed that about 314 million people worldwide live with low vision and blindness. He said 45 million people are blind and 269 million have low vision.

Women he said face a greater risk of vision loss than men and revealed that two-thirds of people blind worldwide are girls and women.

He said the major causes of blindness and low vision in Ghana are cataract reactive errors ? 50 per cent; trachoma ? 15 per cent, glaucoma ? 15 per cent, corneal scar ? 15 per cent and other causes 15 per cent.

Dr Debrah said the country is having problems with eye care because of lack of human resources and infrastructure. He revealed that there are only 54 eye specialists in the country with majority of them working in Accra and Kumasi.

He advised people, especially those of 40 years and above, to have their eyes tested at least once a year to prevent the incidence of cataract and glaucoma which were age-related and noted that Ghana?s cataract surgical rate was 780 per cent of 2,000.

The World Health Organization (WHO) information on blindness indicates that cataract is considered as the cause of blindness globally.

It said cataract surgery is one of the cost effective health care interventions. About 90 per cent of blind people live in low-income countries in Africa and elsewhere.

World Sight Day (WSD) is an annual event focusing on the problem of global blindness. This is always held on the second Thursday of October each year with the Day aiming at raising public awareness around the world about the prevention and treatment of loss of vision and low vision.

Activities planned for the celebration include interaction with the media, regional screening, as well as cataract surgeries to be performed.

The Day is also used to educate target audiences on blindness, prevention, and to generate support for Vision 2020 programme and activities. 

Dr. Debrah told The Accra Mail that by the year 2020 all forms of blindness in the country should be under control.

He urged the government especially and stakeholders to take up the challenge of sight problems in the country and find measures to prevent and treat.

He made a special plea for more eye specialists and technicians to be trained to man eye care facilities in all the 10 regions.