National Launch of 2010 World Sight Day held in Wa

There are 314 million visually impaired persons, 45 million blind people and more than 200 million persons have moderate or severe visual impairment in the world, according to the “Blindness and Visual Impairment: Global Facts”, document.

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It indicated that 153 million people were visually impaired because of uncorrected refractive errors such as uncorrected near-sightedness, far-sightedness or astigmatism, the report indicated. The document that was made available to Journalists at the National Launch of 2010 World Sight Day held in Wa on Thursday, said that in most cases, normal vision could be restored with eye glasses. It said up to 80 percent of blindness and up to 85 percent of moderate or severe visual impairment could be avoided through prevention, treatment or cure and almost 90 per cent of blind people live in low-income countries.

The restoration of sight through cataract surgery was one of the most cost effective health interventions, Global Facts explained. The document said infectious causes of blindness were decreasing as a result of public health interventions and socio-economic development for example, blinding trachoma now affected 40 million people compared to 360 million in 1985.

It, however, revealed that ageing populations and changes in lifestyle could considerably increase the magnitude of visual impairment due to chronic conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration, unless appropriate eye care services are provided.

Blindness prevalence in Ghana stands at an estimated one percent, which corresponds to about 220,000 people for the country. In rural and urban slums, the report indicated that the rate of blindness was estimated between 1.4 and 2.2. per cent compared to 0.7 per cent in the urban areas.

It said cataract, which was curable by surgery, was the leading cause of avoidable blindness and it was estimated that 110,000 people had cataract blindness increasing by 20,000 annually.

The challenge confronting Ghana with regarding the hope of eliminating avoidable blindness was that the current level of surgical output annually, about 12,000 could not meet the estimated annual emerging cases of 20 per cent that thus 20,000 people. The report indicated that the achievement of Vision 2020 for now remained a myth unless drastic measures were taken to increase cataract surgical rate.