2 February 2018

South Africa: Eye Testing Services Brought Closer to Soweto Community

Travelling long distances for eye screening and management of eye problems will be a thing of the past for the community of Dlamini in Soweto and surrounding areas.

This follows a public-private partnership between the Gauteng Department of Health (GDOH), Brien Holden Vision Institute and Standard Chartered Bank.

The three partners are supporting the "Seeing is Believing" campaign and Vision Service Plan Global (VSP Global), which has resulted in the successful delivery of three projects and a significant contribution to the development of eye health services in primary health care centres.

Through these projects, 72 709 adults and 16 886 children were examined by optometrists since the beginning of the partnership.

A total of 25 130 adults and 6 583 children received spectacles and a total of 190 low vision assistive devices were dispensed, amongst others.

Chief Director in the Johannesburg Health District, Mogeru Morewane, said clinics are equipped to assist patients with eye problems.

"I can certainly inform you that our facilities are readily available for the community to access these services.

"Historically, eye health services and professionals were only available at tertiary levels of care due late diagnosis, which resulted in eye health disease complications and admissions," Morewane said.

Vision 2020

Vision 2020 is an initiative by the World Health Organisation which was launched in 1999 to eliminate the causes of preventable blindness by the year 2020. This is in order to give all people in the world, particularly the millions of needlessly blind, the right to sight.

"The number of people blind due to avoidable causes of blindness like cataract, refractive error and glaucoma is increasing every year. To enable GDOH to achieve the prescripts of Vision 2020, it is imperative that people are educated on the importance of eye health and screening to avoid complications in later stages," Morewane said.

Early detection of eye conditions leads to early intervention and it is a powerful strategy to avoid complications and or even unnecessary blindness. It is less expensive to treat minor causes of vision loss than to wait until one is totally blind and then try to restore vision because by then the service is very expensive - if it is even possible at all.

"We are delighted to contribute sustainably to the eradication of treatable and avoidable blindness in South Africa's poorest communities through our 'Seeing is Believing' project," Morewane said.

Eye care tips

- Always wear sunglasses or tinted lenses when you are in the sun.

- Ensure good antenatal care to avoid congenital eye problems.

- Ensure children receive all vaccinations, as per immunization schedules.

- Ensure that any eye trauma is attended to urgently.

- Ensure that children are examined by an optometrist before entering primary school and high school.

- Don't use eye drops that may have been prescribed for someone else.

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