Blindness and visual impairment constitute a major public health burden for the country and the entire global community, and cataract has been found to be a leading cause of blindness in Ghana.
Dr Badu Sarkodie, Director of Public Health, speaking during the National Cataract Outreach Programme Launch in Koforidua, said among other things, that although cataract is one of the leading causes of blindness in Ghana contributing to nearly 55 percent; followed by glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy 19.4 and 12.3 percent respectively, it is preventable.
According to him, about 90 percent of the global burden of people living with visual impairments is in developing countries including Ghana.
He noted that incorrect refractive errors are the main causes of the impairment and stressed that poor sight is a major risk factor for the carnage on Ghana’s roads,
He averred that the purpose of the Cataract Outreach Programme being launched in the Eastern Region in partnership with the Himalaya Project from the United States of America is to screen for cataract cases in the wider population and perform surgeries absolutely free of charge on those diagnosed with the condition with the aim of restoring their sight to enable them live normal lives again and contribute to national development.
The Acting Eastern Regional Director of Ghana Health Service, Dr Anthony Antobre Boateng remarked that among other things, no studies have shown how to prevent cataract but some known risk factors that can expose people to getting cataract include diabetes, smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, excessive alcohol and prolonged use of corticosteroid medications.
“The eye is the window of the body to see what is happening in the world. Total blindness is 100 percent disability and hence every effort must be done to restore the functions of the eyes,” He said.
“There are a lot of ocular conditions in Ghana and virtually all conditions can be prevented and adequately treated in the country including those that require laser surgery. However, we need to create the awareness of blindness and visual impairment and put in measures to manage eye conditions effectively and efficiently,” he added.
By Worlali S. Ametewee, Koforidua