Thousands of Zimbabweans, mostly women and girls, go blind after failing to get treatment for this avoidable condition.
Sight Savers revealed the statistics during World Sight Day commemorations in Plumtree, Matabeleland South last week – an event themed Eliminating Avoidable Blindness – The Right to Sight, Everyone’s Responsibility. Sight Savers regional programmes co-ordinator Tapiwa Huye said there were more than 125,000 blind people in Zimbabwe as a result of cataracts. “Half of the people who go blind because of cataracts have lost their sight after a curable stage,” said Huye.
Cataracts is the clouding of the lens inside the eye which leads to impaired vision. This condition is the most common cause of blindness, although it can be treated through simple surgery.
Huye said that Zimbabwe needed routine rural visits by doctors to keep the development of the disease in check.
A resident from Dimuzi Extension in the area, Belinda Ndlovu, said most villagers could not afford to visit opticians.
“Opticians who assist villagers for free come to the district hospitals once a month for a screening routine. Most people in Mangwe district usually miss this appointment since it is only done once a month and just for a few hours,” she said.
“I have been suffering from poor sight and eye itching but I never got a chance to get any medical assistance from any one of the ophthalmic nurses,” she added. The European Union has previously funded eye disease control programmes in Midlands, Matabeleland South and Matabeleland North. Mangwe district medical officer Netsai Changata said the government lacked the resources for a comprehensive programme in the rural areas.
“This problem is compounded by the country’s lack of capacity to manufacture medicines and intra-ocular lenses. These have to be imported and are expensive,” she said.Post published in: Health