Seek regular comprehensive eye care screening – GHS

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Eye Screening

Dr James Addy, Head of Eye Care Unit, Ghana Health Service (GHS), has encouraged the populace to seek regular comprehensive eye examination at least once every two years.

He said prioritising eye care would help in identifying potential eye diseases on time for effective treatment to prevent complications, and partial or total loss of vision.

Dr Addy said this at a press briefing in Accra on Thursday prior to the commemoration of the World Sight Day on October 14, 2021.

The commemoration is to raise awareness on blindness and vision impairment as public health issues and to influence governments, ministries of health, policy makers, and organisations among others, to participate in and designate funds for the prevention of blindness activities.

Dr Addy said it was important for persons experiencing eye problems to avoid purchasing medicated glasses from wayside vendors and seek proper care from approved health facilities.

He also advised women to desist from using cosmetic products such as artificial eye lashes, which often caused damages to the cornea leading to scars and infections.

Dr Addy stressed on the importance of regular antenatal care and delivery services from approved health facilities to prevent infections that could lead to long-term eye diseases in babies.

“You must also avoid applying unprescribed medications and concoctions to the eyes of children as they can lead to infections and blindness.”

He said globally, 36 million people were blind, with 217 million others having moderate to severe distance vision impairment, 124 million with uncorrected refractive errors, and 85 million suffering from cataract.

Dr Addy said 55 per cent of persons with moderate or severely vision impaired were women, with cataract being the leading cause of blindness in most regions of the world.

He said though the prevalence of blindness and vision impairment combined dropped from 4.58 per cent in 1990 to 3.37 per cent in 2015, 89 per cent of the persons were shown to be living in low and middle-income countries.

However, studies had shown that more than 75 per cent of blindness and visual impairment were avoidable, could be cured, or be corrected with the right medication, surgery, or reading glasses when detected early, he added.
Dr Addy said, “to address the bigger picture at the country and global levels, we need to be aware of our own eye health and so our theme for 2021 is all about #LoveYourEyes,” and that the event would among others, focus on the general awareness on ensuring the prevention of eye sight losses, protection, preservation, as well as prioritising vision.

He said causes of eye problems were aging, lifestyle, trauma to the eye, infections, and hereditary, but said most of them could be prevented by adopting healthy lifestyles and through early and comprehensive screening.

Dr Addy said eating a healthy balanced diet was often the crucial step in maintaining a healthy weight, controlling obesity, and preventing disease such as diabetes, all of which could impact eye health, adding that, foods that were rich in Vitamins A, C, E, Omega 3 and 6 as well as zinc were all very important for eye health.

Others like green leafy vegetables like broccoli and ‘Kontomire,’ had minerals that could delay age-related diseases like cataract and macular degeneration in older persons, he said.

Dr Anthony Ofosu Adofo, the Deputy Director-General, GHS, said the Service was working towards a collaborative effort to ensure that refractive sun glasses could be obtained from pharmacy shops and even filling stations for safety.

He urged the media to become key allies in strengthening advocacy for support from the government, corporations, and individuals, to attain Universal Health Access to eye health and ensure that “everyone counts”.

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