eThekwini residents get free eye tests

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Durban - Residents living in the eThekwini area, who have eye problems and no money to visit a specialist, will today get an opportunity to test their eyes free of charge.

The municipality's Community Participation and Action Support Unit in partnership with the KwaZulu-Natal Health Department and the International Centre for Eye Care Education (IECC) have embarked on a campaign aimed at raising awareness about the importance of eye health care.

During the campaign, the municipality will hand out glasses to people with eye problems and refer them to appropriate institutions for further treatment. Skilled health professionals will also be on site to screen and examine people.

Head of Community Participation and Action Support Unit, Ntokozo Chonco, said the campaign is a continuation of a partnership with IECC in addressing sight challenges in the community.

He said during last year's event, it was discovered that most people were affected with eye problems that were preventable.

"We have also discovered that blindness and poverty are inseparable and this problem is continuing because people are poor and cannot afford to visit specialists.

"The city and partners have realised that health care education and provision of services is crucial to avoid unnecessary disabilities," Chonco said.

The campaign, which is part of the World Sight Day celebrations, aims to prevent visual impairment or restoring sight. The day is commemorated every second Thursday of October.

It is also the main advocacy event for the prevention of blindness and for "Vision 2020: The Right to Sight," a global effort to prevent blindness created by World Health Organisation and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness.

The theme for this year's World Sight Day is "Gender and eye health-equal to care".

In Gauteng, the provincial Health Department said throughout the month of October, it will strengthen their campaign of educating people about the importance of taking care of their eyes in order to avoid preventable causes of blindness such as cataract.