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Residents receive free cataract surgeries

Kajiado County residents have benefitted from free eye treatment and surgery at a three-day medical camp courtesy of the Rotary Club in conjunction with AIC Kajiado Child Healthcare centre.

Over 60 patients suffering from cataract, a prevalent eye disease in the region received free surgeries to restore their sight.

According to Dr. Beline Akoth, an Ophthalmic Cataract surgeon, cataract is the leading cause of preventable blindness in the world.

Dr. Akoth revealed that most cases of cataracts are related to aging; although children are sometimes born with the condition or it may develop after an injury, inflammation or disease.

Risk factors for age-related cataract include diabetes, high blood pressure, a family history of cataracts, prolonged exposure to sunlight, tobacco use and alcohol drinking.

“ Cataract  is a cloudy area in the lens of the eye that leads to a decrease in vision. Cataracts often develop slowly and don’t disturb your eyesight early on and can affect one or both eyes. But with time, cataracts will eventually interfere with your vision. “said the eye specialist.

Symptoms may include: blurry or double vision, increased sensitivity to glare, double vision in the affected eye and trouble seeing at night.

She noted that many people do not seek treatment for eye ailments due to the high costs of surgery and urged those suffering from cataracts to seek treatment at the camp as it was being offered free of charge.

“ Cataract is the leading cause of irreversible blindness.It is prevalent in nomadic communities as a result of their lifestyle and I want to urge those suffering from cataract to visit the camp so as to receive free surgery to gain vision and prevent blindness“ she remarked.

The Opthalmist further urged Kenyans to go for regular eye-check ups so as to diagnose eye ailments early and save sight.

Christopher Ndirangu, Rotary Club of Nairobi, emphasized that early intervention was key in preservation of sight.

Ndirangu said early detection and treatment of cataract and other eye ailments such as glaucoma, conjunctivitis and trachoma is necessary in preventing permanent blindness.

“ We have received many patients suffering from cataracts and we are planning on coming back here again so that we can reach more people.  The eye ailment is common here due to the nomadic lifestyle of the community and frequent eye check-ups will help in detection and treatment“ he said.

Safi Salah, a beneficiary of the free eye camp, could not hide her joy after undergoing surgery on her right eye to remove cataracts.

Salah, a resident of Kajiado town, said she has lived with the eye ailment for over five years and was unable to seek treatment as she cannot afford it.

“ I am very grateful for the free surgery offered at this camp. I have lived with cataracts for over five years and was slowly losing vision in my right eye. I am glad that I will now be able to see and read properly.“ Said Salah.

Another beneficiary, Mary Wanjiku, urged those suffering from any eye problems to seek treatment early, adding that she was on the verge of losing sight in her left eye.

“ I have been experiencing blurry vision on my left eye and I am glad that I was able to undergo surgery, had I stayed longer, the eye would have gone completely blind.“  Said Wanjiku.

According to statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), the prevalence of blindness in Kenya is estimated as 0.7%, with cataract contributing 43%, trachoma 19% and glaucoma 9%.

80 per cent of blindness in Kenya are caused by cases that can be cured and prevented.

By Rop Janet

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