Lets Us Take Our Visual Heath Seriously

It is high time we took our vision seriously. Undoubtedly, our eyes are the most vital sense organs and utmost care must be taken not to lose them. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all stakeholders who are working so hard to create sight awareness in our beloved country.

There are so many diseases that cause blindness in this part of our world and if care is not taken, am afraid a time will come when nothing can be done about it. Glaucoma, trachoma, onchocerciasis, cataract, refractive errors, just to mention a few are really destroying the livelihood of the beautiful people in this country.

In Ghana, data suggest that glaucoma is the most common cause of irreversible blindness. Ghana is the most affected country in Africa and second in the world (beaten by St. Lucia). In Ghana, an estimated 600,000 people among the over 30 years of age group have glaucoma and over 90% of these may not be aware since the disease in its early stages has no symptoms. Studies done in Ghana shows 8.5% of all people 40 years and over have glaucoma (Tanzania 3.1%; South Africa 2.7%) and 7.7% of all people 30 years and over have glaucoma (Gambia 1.2%). Thus about 600,000 people aged 30 years and above have glaucoma in Ghana. It is also estimated that 20.6% of all causes of blindness in Ghana is due to Glaucoma. A study at the Bawku Hospital Eye
Department showed that 34% of the patients with glaucoma who presented at the unit were already blind.

Are we taking VISION 2020 seriously? Are we involving the eye care professionals being trained in our Universities? What is been done about the Optometric bill which has taken so long a time to be passed? We need the bill to be able to regulate the practice and to rule out the quack optometrists who are causing more harm than good from the system. We are in a developing world and so I believe if pragmatic steps are taken to curb these basic but very important issues, we can achieve our goals without any difficulty.

In the nut shell, I would entreat the government and the other stakeholder to help step up the level of education on eye health. The eye care professionals should be given better conditions of service to aid in efficient delivery, high priority should be given to issues concerning eye health and lastly, the passing of the optometric bill should be hastened to give Doctors of Optometry the full authority to practice effectively.

Isaac Owusu,
Department of Optometry and Visual Science,
KNUST, Kumasi
Email: ikepa2006@yahoo.com

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