UPSA marks World Sight Day with free eye screening

Accra, Oct 09, GNA – The University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), has marked the 2020 World Sight Day with a free eye screening exercise for staff and the public.

The event on the theme, “Hope for Sight” was organised by the Health Directorate of the UPSA in collaboration with Permeff Eye Care (PEC).

World Sight Day is observed on every second Thursday of October to raise awareness on eyesight and eye health.

Professor Abednego Feehi Okoe Amartey, Vice Chancellor, UPSA, in a statement read on his behalf, said World Sight Day was aimed at focusing global attention on vision impairment and blindness.

He said this year's event offered an opportunity to celebrate achievements to date, and advocate for increasing attention towards eye care.

He said it was estimated that globally, one billion people had preventable vision impairment.

He said this one billion people included those with moderate or severe distance vision impairment or blindness due to unaddressed refractive error (123.7 million), cataract (65.2 million), glaucoma (6.9 million), corneal opacities (4.2 million), diabetic retinopathy (3 million), and trachoma (2 million), as well as near vision impairment caused by unaddressed presbyopia (826 million).

Prof Amartey said in terms of regional differences, the prevalence of distance vision impairment in low-and middle-income regions was estimated to be four times higher than high-income regions.

He noted that with regards to near vision, rates of unaddressed near vision impairment were estimated to be greater than 80 per cent in Western, Eastern and Central Sub-Saharan Africa, while comparative rates in high-income regions of North America, Australasia, Western Europe, and of Asia-Pacific were reported to be lower than 10 per cent.

He said population growth and ageing were expected to increase the risk associated with vision impairment, and majority of people with vision impairment and blindness were over 50 years.

Prof Amartey said the leading causes of vision impairment were uncorrected refractive errors, cataract, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, corneal opacity and trachoma.

He said according to a recent Blindness and Visual Impairment Study conducted by Ghana Health Service (GHS) in collaboration with other development partners between 2015 to 2017, the prevalence of blindness in Ghana was 0.74 per cent, translating into more than 207,200 blind people in the country.

He said the severe visual impairment prevalence was 1.07 per cent, meaning 299,600 Ghanaians were seriously sick with visual impairment and would soon be completely blind if the necessary measures were not taken.

Prof Amartey said a large proportion of those with low vision (88.9 per cent) and blinders (67.7 per cent) were due to avoidable causes.

He said in Ghana, the leading cause of blindness was cataract, with 54.8 per cent representing 111,888 Ghanaians who were blind.

Dr Perfect Emefa Titiati, Optometrist and Medical Director, PEC, said children as well as adults needed regular eye checks because the causes of blindness were preventable.

She urged Ghanaians to pay close attention to anything related to the eye, adding that they should endeavour to have their eyes tested annually to prevent visual impairment or blindness.

Dr Titiati, who held a blindness stimulation exercise with Prof Charles Barnor, Pro-Vice Chancellor, UPSA, lauded the UPSA for making infrastructural provisions for people with disabilities especially the blind.

Dr Bernard Dornoo, Medical Director, UPSA, said sometimes Ghanaians overlooked the point that visual impairment was a form of disability “and so we don’t really pay much attention to our sight”.

He said occasions like this, it was important that Ghanaians reminded themselves of the values of the eyes and the values of the eyes of others.