Cataract is leading cause of blindness in Ghana – Dr. Deborah

Dr. Oscar Deborah, Head of Eye Care Unit at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, on Thursday said that cataract was the leading cause of blindness, recording 50 per cent of the disease among Ghanaians.

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She announced that 106 people in the Upper West Region underwent cataract surgery in Nandom in the Lawra District and Nadowli and Jirapa Districts, to commemorate the 2010 World Sight Day celebration. Dr. Deborah was addressing health workers, traditional rulers, school children and the public at the National Launch of this year’s World Sight Day, in Wa.

She said that about 46,000 persons suffer from blindness annually in Ghana and only 16,000 of them are treated with the rest becoming unproductive after becoming blind.

Dr. Deborah said about 75 per cent of blindness could have been treated or prevented if the affected persons had attended hospitals with eye care facilities.

She said 16 per cent of children in the Region in 2000 suffered from trachoma, another eye disease, and less than three per cent of them were treated and 1,500 yet to receive treatment.

Dr. Deborah said that about 600,000 Ghanaians were suffering from the disease, placing Ghana as the number two in the world. She said that 8,000 children suffer from trachoma annually in the country while measles, which was a leading cause of blindness among children had reduced due to immunization. Dr. Deborah said that the country was likely to loose many of its productive people to trachoma and that should be a concern for all and not health workers alone.

He said there were only 24 eye specialists in Ghana in 2000 but the number had increased to more than 54 specialists but Upper West and Volta Regions had no specialist.

Dr. Deborah said eye equipment was inadequate in many health facilities and the equipment available was obsolete. She called on Government to invest in eye care to enhance quality service delivery and not to relegate that responsibility to non-governmental organisations alone.

Dr. Deborah commended the Swiss Red Cross for establishing eye care units at hospitals in the Region and asked health authorities to maintain the facilities when the Swiss Red Cross pulls out. 15 Oct 10 Attention recipients, item 03 ends first cast.