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Free Clinics to mark Low Vision Awareness Month held in Ruiru

The Department of Health Services in Kiambu County held a free eye screening and treatment clinic for school-going children in Biashara Ward Ruiru, concluding a series of eye clinics held in February to observe the Low Vision Awareness Month.

Low Vision refers to a visual impairment that cannot be corrected fully with glasses, contact lenses, medication or surgery and significantly impacts a person’s ability to perform daily activities. Individuals with low vision experience limitations in activities such as reading, writing, driving or recognizing the facial features of people around them.

A World Health Organization (WHO) task force on blindness data found that 90 percent of people with low vision reside in underdeveloped countries, with 75 percent in Africa and Asia.

Speaking at the event, Dr Janet Waweru an Ophthalmologist at Kikuyu Eye Unit in Kiambu said there were a number of reasons that led to declining eye health in individuals that struggle with low vision.

“Conditions such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and cataracts are generally the major causes of low eye vision. However other causes include trauma to the head or eyes, genetic factors such as retinitis pigmentosa and aging because as people age, the risk of developing vision-related issues increases. Some occupations also involve prolonged exposure to eye strain or hazardous materials that greatly increase an individual’s risk of developing low vision,” said Dr Waweru.

She added that managing low vision was challenging, but there were several strategies and tips that could help individuals with low vision make the most of their remaining vision and maintain independence after diagnosis through rehabilitation techniques that combine adaptive technology, orientation, and mobility training plus occupational and physical therapy.

“The use of magnification devices such as magnifying glasses or electronic magnifiers that help with reading and viewing of objects, adaptive devices such as phones with oversized buttons, watches that speak the time aloud, and mobility training from professionals who teach techniques for safe navigation of an individual’s environment using mobility aids such as canes if needed, are strategies that make independence a reality for individuals with low vision and enable them to embrace their lives fully.” She said.

Peter Wainaina, a Grade 7 class teacher at Good Foundation School in Ruiru said he was grateful that the eye clinic had chosen to offer free testing and treatment in Biashara Ward.

“I had noticed that some students in my class have issues with their vision. They had previously complained that the blackboard had become blurry and indistinct which is challenging for them as they cannot participate with the rest of the students during class. The eye clinic will hopefully help us find a solution to the vision issues they are currently facing,” he said.

On his part, Dr Vincent Opiyo, a retina and cataract surgeon at Lions Sight First Eye Hospital emphasized the importance of early detection and intervention.

“Regular eye exams enable us to identify and address associated eye problems that can significantly impact an individual’s vision. By detecting and treating these issues promptly, we can help patients maximize their remaining vision,” said Dr Munene.

By Hellen Lunalo

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