15 January 2013

Uganda: Blindness On the Rise in Tororo

Blindness is on the rise in Tororo district. One of the most common causes of this is cataracts, which can be treated if one seeks medical attention early.

"At least up to 80 cataract patients are registered every month. We need to sensitise the public about the dangers of not treating cataracts. According to the district records, the increase is due to untreated cataracts," Moses Owor, the Adhola cultural head, said.

Speaking at the annual stakeholder's assembly of Benedictine Eye Hospital in Tororo, recently, Owor said despite free eye treatment at the facility, many were still becoming blind due to cataracts.

A cataract is a preventable and treatable eye disease characterised by the clouding of the eye lens.

George Tumwesigye, the director of Benedictine Eye Hospital, said 80% of blindness is reversible.

"Cataract disease is the leading cause of blindness in Uganda, but most people still don't know that it can be treated," he said.

Low vision (reduced vision) is also fairly common, especially among children, Tumwesigye adds. "People with low vision may see well for some time, but the defect would have to be corrected to preserve one's sight."

About Benedictine

Tumwesigye says the hospital attends to about 20,000 patients annually. It serves eastern Uganda, Karamoja region and some parts of Kenya.

"Last year, the centre started treating epilepsy and disability-related illnesses due to increased demand for the services," he says.

Tororo Municipality MP Sanjay Tanna urges the hospital management to increase its outreach services so that more vulnerable communities can benefit.

He promises to move a motion in Parliament so that, like HIV/AIDS and malaria, blindness too is prioritised.

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