According to Dr. Ciku Mathenge, the Director, Dr. Agarwal Eye Hospital, in Kigali, about 80 per cent of these cases can be reversed, but most people choose not to.
"We want to raise awareness on sight problems and prevention of blindness in Rwanda," Mathenge said during celebrations to mark the World Sight Day in Kigali yesterday.
During the celebrations, over 200 public transport drivers received free eye treatment, reading glasses and eye drops, worth $10,000.
"We chose drivers because they do not have time to go to hospitals yet they hold the lives of many people in their hands. Besides, most of these drivers are of old age, hence the possibility of sight problems," Mathenge said at the event held at Nyabugogo.
She added that the major cause of blindness in Rwanda is cataract, trachoma and glaucoma while poor vision is caused by refractive error such as myopia
Mohamed Rusizana, one of the drivers who benefitted from the exercise said he was excited by the new spectacles.
"I have been having very hard time reading and driving especially at night but I did not have time to go to the hospital. This day has brought doctors to me and my sight back," Rusizana said.
Meanwhile, Rwanda has trained 986 nurses to help citizen easily access eye care.
These were deployed in health centres across the country.
"Besides the nurses, Rwanda has 14 qualified ophthalmology specialists and 40 ophthalmology technicians trained from Kigali Health Institute," Francois Habiyaremye, the in charge of Non Communicable Diseases at the Ministry of Health, said yesterday. Ophthalmologists are medical doctors specialising in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of eye problems.
Habiyaremye added that Rwanda has all the necessary equipment and infrastructure needed to treat eye diseases.
According to WHO statistics, 39 million people worldwide are blind. Another 246 million people live with moderate or severe visual impairments, two thirds of blind children die within two years following their loss of eyesight and 80 per cent of all cases of blindness in developing countries could be treated or prevented.
World Sight Day is an annual day of awareness held on the second Thursday of October to focus global attention on blindness and vision.