Eye health under the spotlight

After receiving a donation of spectacles, 50 patients who suffered from farsightedness and amblyopia (lazy eye) now have perfect vision.

This donation, made in the spirit of World Sight Day (8 October), was made possible by the Free State Department of Health in partnership with the South African Optometric Association (SAOA).

In order to raise awareness about the importance of eye care, an event with the theme “Hope in Sight” was held at the National District Hospital and the Universitas Annex Hospital in Bloemfontein.

Mondli Mvambi, spokesperson for the provincial Department of Health, said the beneficiaries of the spectacles had been diagnosed and received treatments such as cataract and glaucoma surgery to restore their vision.

According to the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, approximately 285 million people worldwide live with low vision and blindness.

Of these, 39 million people are blind and 246 million have moderate or severe visual impairment.

In 2019 the World Health Organisation (WHO) noted that 2,2 billion people across the globe suffered vision impairment, of which at least 1 billion people had visual impairment that would have been reversible through optometric interventions.

Myopia (nearsightedness, or difficulty seeing things from a distance), hyperopia (farsightedness, or difficulty seeing nearby objects) and presbyopia (age-related loss of the eyes’ ability to focus actively on nearby objects) are the main causes of reversible vision impairment.

The following tips are recommended to prevent visual impairment:

  • Manage visual conditions through regular eye examinations by an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
  • Maintain a healthy diet. Eat green, yellow and orange vegetables and fruits such as strawberries, oranges and mangoes. Tuna and sardines provide omega 3 oils that are beneficial for eye health.
  • Safeguard your eyes by wearing sunglasses with ultraviolet protection.
  • Stop smoking. Cyanide from smoking damages eye cells, thereby increasing the risk of developing cataracts, dry eyes or macular degeneration.
  • Control chronic conditions. People with diabetes and high blood pressure should comply with treatment protocols and schedule regular checkups to avoid complications with eye health.
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