Most eye problems preventable proclaimed at world sight day


Around 285 million people are visually impaired worldwide. Statistics show that preventable causes are as high as 80 percent of the total visual impairment burden. ORBIS celebrated its 30th anniversary along with the World Sight Day on Friday October 12, 2012 at Harmony Hotel.
Ethiopia has one of the highest blindness prevalence rates in the world, with 1.2 million blind people and an estimated five million people suffering from visual impairment. Although over 80pct of blindness and visual impairment in the region is preventable, tens of thousands of people still continue to lose their sight simply because of lack of basic sanitation, hygiene and eye care. One of the major causes of eye sight loss is Trachoma a disease also referred to as a “disease of poverty”. A study done by ORBIS Ethiopia states that Ethiopia has the highest problem of trachoma from Sub-Saharan countries. It also shows that there are 138,000, who are blind due to trachoma, around 1.3 million adults with Trachoma toustrichiasis (TT) which is another eye disease as well as over nine million children with active trachoma.
“62 percent of trachoma prevalence is in the Amhara region, but there have been a significant reduction in the number of infections,” stated Alemayehu Sisay, a doctor from ORBIS.
To attain “Vision 2020”, which is the global initiative for the elimination of avoidable blindness, it was stated at the celebration that simply throwing antibiotics at the disease won’t help, people need to be educated and communities and the Government have to actively participate. “We treat trachoma with an antibiotic, but the antibiotic doesn’t guaranty the eradication of the disease. People need to be educated about  the importance of hygiene, they need to have enough access to water,” stated Richard Le Mesurier, Board Member of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness.
Some of the things that were stated as challenges for the elimination of blindness include: the lack of financial support and skilled personals as well as lack of access to clean water which obviously is essential for hygiene.
“We need vehicles to go and see patients in rural areas, we need different kinds of equipment’s, all these needs need to be met,” stated Richard.    
ORBIS has been working in Ethiopia since 1998 to reduce the burden of avoidable blindness and visual impairment. It develops comprehensive rural eye care services for millions of people who live in remote, rural areas and find it difficult to access services.