By Claire Wanja
About 220,000 Kenyans are blind and more others have visual impairment problems, a health expert warns.
Head of Ophthalmology, in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Michael Gichangi says eye problems have increased because of prolonged life expectancy especially in rural areas.
“Visual impairment increases with age and because people have started living longer, the cases have increased as you go further out of the Nairobi,’’ he says.
Dr. Gichangi reveals that the most common causes of blindness are cataracts, complications of trachoma, glaucoma, diabetes, childhood eye diseases and uncorrected short and long sight problems.
“This visual problems can be averted if Kenyans seek treatment early and develop a habit of going for regular health check-ups, at least once a year with support of NHIF subscription,’’ he says.
Dr. Gichangi reveals that county hospitals have been fully equipped to address the common eyes problems and urges Kenyans to avoid self-medication and seek medical treatment if they experience common eye conditions such as dry eyes, tearing and cataracts among others.’’
In the past 10 years Dr. Gichangi says the Ministry has trained 50 ophthalmologists and 100 middle level cadres to address the shortage of specialists.
“Currently the country has 110 ophthalmologists, but we need at least 250 well distributed across the country to adequately give Kenyans quality services,’’ he stressed.