While there are many causes of visual impairment and blindness like cataract, diabetes, the use of expired drugs, consumption of sub-standard alcohol, accidents, drug overdose, old age, wrong medication and others, there is a major one; trachoma a disease that affects mainly the low income and rural poor communities in the tropics of the developing countries like Uganda. In the contrary, Australia, a developed country is still grappling with the problem which is amongst the poor, the Aborigines.
Trachoma is a preventable and treatable disease that causes visual impairment and permanent blindness that affects the eye and is caused by a bacterium called chlamydia trachomatis. Its transmission is influenced by environmental threats like over crowdedness, poor sanitation and hygiene, poor housing and shortage of water. It can be spread through personal contact like hands, beddings and clothes; also, it can be spread by a fly which has been in contact with an infected person. Inside the affected eye, the eyelid becomes very severely scarred that it turns inwards and causes the eyelashes to rub against the eyeball, resulting in constant pain and light intolerance.
Trachoma is a Neglected Tropical Disease that continues to permanently blind and visually impair the populace especially the developing world. While it accounts for 90% of the visually impaired globally, approximately 80 per cent of the population in the developing countries depend on traditional medicine for major treatment.
Reports from Uganda’s Ministry of Health reveal that more than 900,000 children under the age of 10 have trachoma and 10 million people are at risk of being infected. Another 48,000 people are said to be blind from the disease. The World Health Organisation says 285 million people globally live with low vision and blindness. Of these 39million are blind and 246 have severe visual impairment.
Today is World Sight Day, to commemorate the effects of visual impairment and its impact on the world’s population.Today the 13th October is World Sight Day, a day to observe, give support to the blind, the visually impaired and supporting eye specialists by being #StrongerTogether as this year’s theme suggests.
Countries like the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ghana, China, Gambia, and Morocco have reached the goals of achieving signs to the elimination, according to The World Health Organisation (WHO). By 2020, WHO wants the disease to have been eliminated using the SAFE strategy which is Surgery, Antibiotics, Facial cleanliness, and Environmental improvement with emphasis on water access and improved sanitation.