Glaucoma, cataract and diabetes have been pointed out as the major cause of blindness in Kenya, with the Ministry of Health estimating that about 10 million people are likely to lose their sight, if the situation is not reversed.
Francis Mbuguru, aged 70 years and hails from Meru County, lost his eyesight in 2018 due to cataract and since then, it has not been easy for him to attend to his daily activities.
Cataract is a condition that leads to clouding in the eye lens, hence obstructing vision.
“My left eye started failing in 2018 and it also affected the other one. I could not see anything, it was painful,” reveals Mburugu.
However, as the world observed Sight Day Tuesday that sought to raise awareness of visual impairment and blindness, Lions Sight First Eye Hospital conducted free eye check-up and cataract surgery in Laikipia County that saw Mburugu regain his eye sight after experiencing much agony due to his condition.
The Day is celebrated on October 11 annually and this year’s theme was, “Love your eyes.”
Mburugu was among hundreds of people with eye problems who had turned at Nanyuki Maternal and Nursing home to get their eyes treated, an exercise that saw about 300 patients with cataract removed, to enable them regain their sight. Apart from cataract surgery, at least 1322 patients who had come from counties of Isiolo, Nyeri, Nyandarua, Samburu and Kirinyaga also got free eye check-up and further medical referrals.
Mary Wanjiru from Othaya in Nyeri County said, with eye cataract, she could not be able to read the bible which she adored, but after the surgery, she was hopeful to attend to her normal duties.
“Doctors are well trained, they do a lot for us and with love. No one should fear getting a cataract removed because after that, they will not experience pain,” she noted.
Ibrahim Mohamed, a Nanyuki resident who was also a beneficiary of free cataract surgery, revealed that his eye sight problem dated back to 1982.
According to Lions Sight First Eye Hospital Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Officer, Peter Ndwiga, children are also not spared from eye sight problems, noting that harsh weather conditions in Laikipia County contributed to loss of eyesight.
“You will find that eye problems in Laikipia are many due to harsh weather conditions. We have noticed that in children, they have reading problems, we recommend them reading spectacles,” revealed Ndwiga.
Lions Sight First Eye Hospital, Laikipia County branch president Justus Maragara said, the free eye check-up was sponsored by Loresho Eye Hospital and Beyond Zero programme among other partners.
Nanyuki Maternal and Nursing Home proprietor, Dr. Somba Kivungu, said eye problems are contributed by old age, smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure and for children is due to a disease like measles or accidents among other factors.
Dr. Kivungu urged people to practice good lifestyles and visit hospitals for regular eye check-ups to avoid cataract diseases.
Meanwhile, globally about 285 million individuals are blind or visually impaired and with 90 percent coming from low income countries, 19 million children also have the same eye sight problems. However, 80 percent of such cases are preventable.
By Muturi Mwangi