With over 10 million Kenyans at risk of going blind, the Kenya Society for the Blind has urged the government to set aside more funds towards the prevention of avoidable blindness in the country.
Out of the 10 million, blindness arises due to preventable and treatable conditions such as trachoma, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma, among others. There is also a rising increase in cases of blindness from lifestyle diseases such as diabetes.
The Kenya Society for the Blind Chairman Mr. Samson Waweru said that over 750,000 Kenyans are visually impaired with an additional 331,000 being totally blind.
“Of the ten million people at risk, about 7.5 Million are infected. We as a Society and other players in the visual impairment space only have a capacity to reach out to 1,700,00 people per year. More services ranging from simple eye screening and treatment of common eye ailments are needed to reduce and prevent blindness,” said Mr. Waweru.
“ 80 percent of those cases at risk are preventable, meaning four out of five people who are blind right now in Kenya don’t have to be. They are blind because the eye care services did not reach them in time while others simply cannot access medical care,” added Mr. Waweru.
“We urge the Kenyan government to reaffirm its commitment to ending avoidable blindness, as this will be key in achieving Agenda 4 as more young people within the working group are going blind,” concluded Mr. Waweru.
According to the World Health Organization “World Report on Vision”, at least 2.2 billion people globally have a vision impairment or blindness, of whom at least 1 billion have a vision impairment that could have been prevented or has yet to be addressed.
While over US $14.3 billion is required to deal with unaddressed refractive errors and cataract globally, the report shows that only US$5.8 billion would have been the cost of preventing vision impairment in these 11.9 million people.
Since its inception in 1956, The Society has supported more than two million Kenyans living with visual disabilities through the promotion of their welfare, education, training, and employment while assisting in the prevention and alleviation of blindness.