Did you know that 80% of cases of blindness and visual impairment in Africa are avoidable?
In Africa, over 25 million people have a form of visual impairment. Almost 6 million people are blind. Without their sight, people may not be able to recognise their loved ones, to work or study. They may lose their freedom and their independence. They are more likely to suffer from other physical and mental health conditions. Learn more about visual impairments and how you can protect yourself and your loved ones from blindness!
CAUSES OF VISUAL IMPAIRMENT
There are many causes of visual impairment. Some of the most common causes are:
- Uncorrected refractive errors
- Infectious diseases such as trachoma and river blindness
This means that there are effective ways to prevent or treat these eye diseases. For example, uncorrected refractive error can be corrected with glasses. Cataracts can be removed with a simple and cheap operation. Infectious diseases like trachoma can be treated with antibiotics or a simple operation.
We all know how important vision is to our daily lives. That is why it’s so important to treat or prevent those 80% of cases of visual impairment that are avoidable.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PROTECT YOUR VISION AND THAT OF THE PEOPLE YOU CARE ABOUT?
Here are some easy steps:
- Eat a healthy diet:foods like green leafy vegetables, oily fish, eggs and nuts contain nutrients that protect against diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts
- Don’t smoke:smoking increases your risk of cataracts, macular degeneration, and damage to the nerves that supply your eye.
- Protect your eyes from sunlight:UV light from the sun can increase the risk of cataracts. Wear sunglasses, or a broad brimmed hat to protect your eyes.
But most importantly: get regular eye health checks. This is particularly important if you are over 50, or have a disease like diabetes.
We understand that people have busy lives, and for many people in Africa it might be difficult to get to an eye clinic. But you do not need an eye health professional to check your visual acuity. Visual acuity means how clearly you can see. It is important because a decrease in visual acuity is a sign that you have an eye disease that may need treatment. Most eye diseases are easier to treat if you catch them early.
If your vision is getting worse gradually, you might not realise it until your visual loss is severe.
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF SOMEONE’S EYE SIGHT IS GETTING WORSE?
Here are some signs that a person might have undetected visual impairment:
- Children falling behind in school
- Bumping into things or falling over
- Difficulty driving, particularly at night
- Difficulty doing close work such as reading and sewing
- Double vision
Anyone can check their visual acuity at home or at school, with the right equipment.
As part of our Eye Health Week we want to highlight two organisations that will allow you to do this:
Peek Vision has created an app that can be used on any smartphone to check visual acuity. Learn more about this here: https://www.peekvision.org/en_GB/peek-solutions/peek-acuity/
Crisp Vision sells cheap, simple, reusable eye kits that can be used to check your vision. Learn more about them here: https://www.facebook.com/CrispVisionEyeClinic/
This article is part of Right for Education’s Eye Health Week.