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Civil servants benefit from free eye check-up

Government employees yesterday benefitted from a rare treat after a private hospital set up a free eye checkup at the Nyeri Regional Commissioner’s office.

The medical camp which is the second of its kind in a year was organized by Optex Opticians from the Nanyuki Cottage Hospital, Laikipia County.

According to Ms. Margaret Waithera, who was among the eye specialists present, the objective for conducting the free medical camp was to help assess the situation of eye challenges affecting civil servants, the majority of whom rarely go for eye checkups.

The optician noted that due to the nature of their work, the majority of government employees spend their working time indoors glued to computer screens, a situation that more often than not impacts negatively on their eyesight.

“One of the reasons we have decided to organize this free eye check-up today is because these (government) offices are occupied by a majority of people aged 40 years and above and who happen to have reading difficulties,” Waithera said.

“We have so far managed to attend to more than 30 patients since morning but we have also served other members of the public. For those with critical cases our clinic is accepting to attend to them as long as one has a National Health Insurance card,” she added.

Apart from those who had come to have their eyes checked, a good number visited the camp to follow up on their medication. One of such patients was Mr. Justus Muchemi who said he decided to honour the invite after having attended a similar clinic by Optex last year.

He also found the venue convenient for him due to its location away from the hustle and bustle common in the town CBD.

“I have always wanted to attend an eye checkup clinic but never made it due to my strict work schedule. I therefore laud the organizers for organizing this clinic since it has enabled me to actualize my dream of having my eyes checked,” he told KNA.

Waithera however insisted that the need to have one’s eyes checked was not a preserve for the elderly but cuts across all the ages.  She said many of the eye complications affecting the majority of Kenyans could have been addressed had such individuals visited opticians to have them checked.

To address this gap, Optex is conducting outreaches in churches, schools and even police stations to sensitize members of the public on the need for proper eye care.

“We do this because eye checkup should not just be for those aged 40 years and above but all ages since eye problems cut across all age brackets. Some of these causes could be due to too much light or exposure to the TV screens, allergies, genes or hereditary issues,” Waithera said.

“As a result, we have been undertaking sensitization sessions in schools, police stations and churches to inform members of the public on the need to have their eyes checked at least twice a year,” she explains.

A US National Institutes of Health Kenya Rural Blindness Prevention Project conducted in 1990   showed that 0.7 per cent of rural Kenyans are blind in the better eye by WHO standards, and another 2.5 per cent suffer significant visual impairment.

Similarly rates of visual loss tend to increase five-fold in each 20-year age cohort. Those of female gender were also found to have higher prevalence of visual loss than males over age 20.

The research also found that the most common cause of both blindness and visual impairment was cataract, accounting for 38 per cent of all visual loss. Trachoma, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and severe refractive errors follow cataract as leading causes of blindness in the better eye.

Trauma, corneal scars of various causes, phthisis, and staphyloma were leading causes of monocular blindness, according to the US survey.

By Samuel Maina/Yvette Kimani

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