Dr Oscar Debrah, Head, Eye Care Unit, Ghana Health Service (GHS), says Ghana is a leading country with the highest glaucoma cases of 700,000 with 35, 000 patients going blind.
Glaucoma is group of eye disorders that have few symptoms in their early stages, but eventually leads to damage of the optic nerve (the bundle of nerve fibers that carries information from the eye to the brain), which could lead to vision loss or complete blindness.
It is the second leading cause of blindness in the world, according to the World Health Organisation. Globally, 60.5 million had glaucoma in 2010. Given the aging of the world’s population, this number may increase to almost 80 million by 2020.
Dr Debrah said 24,000 Ghanaians are blind with half of the figure being victims of cataract, a clouding of the lens of the eye that impairs vision.
Dr Debrah made this known at the weekend in Accra when the Standard Chartered Bank held a health walk exercise as part of celebrations marking this year?s World Sight Day (WSD).
He said cataract, which is caused by diabetes come as a result of old age but when one develops it, it necessarily does not mean the fellow would go blind as it could be operated on.
The WSD is an awareness day on the World Health Organisation calendar celebrated globally on every second Thursday in October.
He advised people whose parents have been diagnosed of glaucoma to have eye test at least every one to two years to know their status as well as to keep them abreast of the functioning of their eyes adding: ?After 40 years once a year every individual must undergo an eye test,? he said.
Dr Debrah also advised parents to take their children to the hospitals for proper eye checks as well as when there is pain, blood or other symptoms are detected.
He said people should desist from applying medicines on their eyes without any doctor?s prescription,? he said.
Mr Nii Okai Nunoo, Regional Head of Sustainability Africa, Standard Chartered Bank, said in 2003, during the commemoration of the Banks?s 150 years of doing business globally, Standard Chartered Bank staff chose to address the main causes of avoidable blindness through it ?Seeing is Believing? (SiB) initiative.
He said the SiB which has been the banks initiative since 2003 had impacted 25 million people globally, helped to provide 35 districts hospitals with eye care equipment, training and other eye care facilities through the technical support of the GHS.
?And currently we can say 13.8 million of Ghanaians have benefitted from this our humanitarian initiative in the country where closely 4.5 million dollars have been involved,? Mr Nunoo said.
Observing some of the challenges the bank have been confronted with by the initiative, the Regional Head of Sustainability Africa, Standard Chartered Bank, called on government to provide qualified personnel who would be able to provide better eye care assistance to the country as ?There are no ophthalmologists in certain regions in the country?, he said.