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PRIMARY CARE NEEDED

High prevalence of eye problems worries surgeons

Currently stands at 1.6 per cent, almost three times more than the rest of the country where it is between 0.5 to 0.7.

In Summary

• The region’s prevalence rate of blindness in the region currently stands at 1.6 per cent, almost three times more than the rest of the country where it is between 0.5 to 0.7 per cent. 

• County health executive Ahmed Nadhir said over 20,000 people have a visual impairment and need interventions in the county.

Eye surgeon operate a patient at the Garissa county referral hospital durring a free eye cataract saggery camp
PICTURE OF EYE MEDICAL CLINIC STORY Eye surgeon operate a patient at the Garissa county referral hospital durring a free eye cataract saggery camp
Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO

A surgeon has raised an alarm over the high prevalence of glaucoma and cataracts in North Eastern as compared to other parts of the country. 

Glaucoma is caused by the failure of normal fluid in the eye to drain properly. This creates pressure that damages the optic nerve connecting the eye to the brain, resulting in sight loss.

“A majority of the patients we receive in this region always complain of cataract and glaucoma whether they are adults or children. This is of great concern to us as eye surgeons,” Dr Amal Ahmed said.

She said the region’s prevalence rate of blindness in the region currently stands at 1.6 per cent, almost three times more than the rest of the country where it is between 0.5 to 0.7 per cent. 

Emphasis on the primary health care of the eye can help avoid blindness and other problems associated with the eye, the surgeon said.

Ahmed was speaking at the Garissa county referral hospital during a free eye cataract surgery camp organised by the Rotary Club of Nairobi in partnership with  Nairobi University. 

Rotary Club’s Mohamed Salim said that they had done 16,000 cataract operations across the country and urged other NGOs to lend a helping hand to patients.

“The numbers of those who need these services are really overwhelming. This is partly due to the fact that unlike in other areas where NGOs are there in plenty, in North Eastern they are very few,” he said.

County health executive Ahmed Nadhir said over 20,000 people have a visual impairment and need interventions in the county.

“As a county, we are worried about the numbers. We do not want to be a county that contributes to a high burden of disease. We really need to get an academic discourse that will help us understand why we are having this high cases,” he said.

He said the country was investing in primary health care noting that significant improvement had been noted.

“As much as we are looking at the secondary interventions. There is a need to look at primary interventions as an important component. This includes ensuring that the people have enough knowledge including ensuring that children do not have vitamin A deficiency,” he said.

The camp will go on for the next four days and targets more than 200 surgeries.