A report by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) on the study of Blindness and Visual Impairment 2015 has indicated that about 300,000 people representing 1.07 percent of the population had severe visual impairment and stand a high prevalence risk of getting blind.
The study, which was undertaken among different age groups, zones and sexes to estimate the causes, magnitude and distribution of avoidable blindness and visual impairment reported 0.74 percent of the population representing 207,000 people had been identified as totally blind.
The study mainly indicated trachoma, cataract, glaucoma, posterior segment and cornea opacity diseases as the principal causes of blindness and visual impairment in the country.
It highlighted Cataract causes of blindness as being responsible for more than half of cases, representing 54.8 percent and identified Glaucoma as the second major cause representing 19.4 percent in Ghana.
This was followed by Posterior Segment which accounted for 12.9 percent and 11.2 percent for cornea opacity.
With regards to visual impairment, the study identified Refractive Error which represented 44.4 percent and cataract related diseases representing 42.2 percent as the major causes of severe visual impairment.
The age distribution of the study indicated that blindness was positively related to age. Persons in the age group of 30-39 representing 0.22 percent were found to be blind.
This increased to 0.28 percent among persons in the age group of 40-49 and further increased to 19.12 percent among persons 80 years and above. The sex distribution indicated that 58.4 percent of blind persons were females.
In the rural areas, the high prevalence of blindness accounted for 0.79 percent than in the urban areas which accounted for 0.67 percent.
The report also stated that 67.74 percent of persons who were blind reside in areas where there are fewer programmes of blindness or treatment interventions going on, while 32 percent resided in areas where some programme interventions are implemented.
The Ghana Health Service (GHS) is advocating for policy makers and eye health professionals, through the study, to develop blindness prevention programmes and services that focus on addressing the causes of blindness and visual impairment threats.
By Mawuli Yao Ahorlumegah