Over 10m Kenyans at risk of going blind, new study shows
More than 10 million Kenyans are at risk of going blind if urgent measures are not put in place to reverse the condition, a new report by the Kenya Society for the Blind shows.
The report indicates that more than 750,000 Kenyans are visually impaired and require urgent interventions including corrective and assistive services. This is on top of an estimated 300,000 who are completely blind.
According to KSB chairman Samson Waweru, who was speaking during the unveiling of “Fungua Macho” initiative at Ndurarua Primary School in Dagoretti South Constituency on Saturday, one out of four Kenyans could wake up blind.
“Out of the 10 million people at risk, about 7.5 Million are affected. We as a society and other players in the visual impairment space only have a capacity to reach out to 1.7 million people a year. More services, ranging from simple eye screening and treatment of common eye ailments, are needed to reduce and prevent blindness,” said Waweru.
He said the visually impaired need support to access assistive devices, which are expensive and difficult to get.
“A fully integrated computer for use by the visually impaired costs as much as Sh200,000 while the cheapest walking cane cost Sh1,500,” he added.
“Most are blind because they could not access eye care services in time while others simply cannot access medical care,” added Waweru.
“Four out of five people who are blind right now in Kenya do not have to be. Blindness arises due to preventable and treatable conditions such as trachoma and glaucoma, among others. There is also a rising increase of cases of blindness from lifestyle diseases such as diabetes,” he added.
He urged the government not to turn a blind eye to the rising cases of people living with blindness. Waweru said there is need for the government to show commitment by setting aside more funds towards the prevention of avoidable blindness in the country.