‘Care can prevent blindness’

2018-10-02 06:01

As we move into the month of October, which is Eye Care Awareness Month, millions around the globe will observe World Retina Week from Monday 24 to Sunday 30 September 2018.

The League of Friends of the Blind (Lofob) continues to urge the public to have their eyes tested regularly as it is key to saving sight. According to statistics published by the World Health Organisation, 80% of blindness can be prevented and treated if detected in its early stages.

Retinal conditions are among the most common causes of vision loss in the global working population and the impact of these conditions on quality of life, be they rare and inherited or age related, is immense. The latest statistics compiled by Lofob indicate an increase in blindness caused as a result of retinal conditions, and the most common causes recorded in adults include diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa and retinal damage as a result of trauma. Paediatric eye conditions primarily seen in children referred to Lofob include retinoblastoma, Leber’s congenital amaurosis, uveitis, cytomegalovirus retinitis, coloboma and retinopathy of prematurity.

Common symptoms include a sudden or gradual increase in either the number of “floaters” which are little “cobwebs” or specks that float around in your field of vision, light flashes in the eye, and distortion of lines and shapes (a good example of this could be that an everyday item like a door frame appears crooked, and a blind spot or dark area also usually forms, resulting in the loss of central vision). Individuals most at risk include those living with diabetes, hypertension or glaucoma, those who have suffered an eye injury, individuals with a family history of retinal blindness and those over the age of 40.

“While Lofob primarily serves the needs of blind and visually impaired persons we continue to promote the prevention of blindness. During World Retina Week, we encourage all citizens across the country, both young and old, to realise the importance of regular eye screening as it is key to saving sight,” says Dr Armand Bam, executive director of Lofob­.

Bam adds that they see far too many cases of blindness that could have been prevented through early detection and appropriate treatment.

He states that an alarming number of young people are being impacted by various retinal conditions, having far-reaching repercussions on South Africa as a whole.

“Regular eye testing, good nutrition and positive lifestyle choices all contribute to good eye health,” says Bam.

V For more information call Heidi Volkwijn on 021 705 3753 or visit www.lofob.org.za.

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