Multinational optical and optoelectronic technology company, ZEISS, has partnered with the South African Optometric Association (SAOA) to celebrate World Sight Day on 12 October by conducting free screening and eye testing for various communities in KZN, Limpopo, Free State and Gauteng. ZEISS will provide screening equipment for Gauteng.
ZEISS Vision South Africa’s Commercial Manager Vesta Slabbert, says conducting eye tests on people who have limited access to medical services is critical in addressing avoidable blindness. “According to the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness four out of five of the world’s blind are avoidably so. This regrettable statistic is similar for South Africa where an estimated 80% of people are avoidably blind, with most them living in rural areas.
“Avoidable blindness differs from region to region, but some of the causes include cataract, refractive error, trachoma, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and childhood blindness. With regular eye tests and the correct treatment, some of these conditions can be prevented or reversed.”
In line with World Sight Day’s theme for this year, #Makevisioncount, SAOA expects to test more than 1000 people in the selected regions. Mobile units manned by optometrists and 35 optometric students and six volunteer optometrists will travel to the various regions to conduct screening and eye tests.
ZEISS will provide iProfiler and VisuRef screening equipment as well as lunch packs and T-shirts at the various sessions.
Optometrist and SAOA Member Liaison Officer, Lucky Nkosi, says SAOA is committed to raising public awareness of blindness and vision impairment as major public health issues. “We urge members of the communities we intend to visit to make sure they get their eyes tested and encourage other family members to do so too.”
The communities to be visited include Grace Bible church in Soweto, Gauteng; The Ramakrishna Centre of South Africa in KwaZulu-Natal; the Grace Bible Church in Polokwane and Kgabane Primary School in the Free State where children will be screened in this region.
Slabbert says World Sight Day forms part of Eye Care Awareness Month, which runs from 23 September to 18 October. “We are proud to be associated with the SAOA initiative as it takes eye testing and screenings to people who do not necessarily have the resources to access health care services. Only about 20% of South Africa’s population has access to private health care – so initiatives such as these can be life-changing for people who don’t have a same access.”