The eastern African country of Kenya is reporting a dramatic increase in cases of blindness. According to the latest statistics, there are 224,000 Kenyans estimated to be completely blind. There are 750,000 more Kenyan residents who are considered visually impaired.
Unfortunately, medical authorities in Kenya cannot keep up with the demand for their services. There are simply not enough qualified eye experts in the Republic of Kenya to handle this rapid increase in cases of blindness and visual impairment.
Elizabeth Oyugi, a representative for Kenya's private sector, told reporters that Kenyan hospitals need more well-trained staff to address this massive surge in eye care needs. Oyugi told reporters that human resource departments need to grow very quickly to match the rapid increase in eye care complaints. As of today, Kenya has a population of 40 million, but there are only 110 trained ophthalmologists in the whole nation.
There was a bit of good news in Kenya's latest reports. Of surgeries that were performed in the nation, a higher percentage of them were successful at reversing the symptoms of visual impairment of blindness. Unfortunately, cataracts are still the leading cause of blindness in Kenya. An estimated 47 percent of Kenyans are affected by cataracts at some stage in their life, which makes it the leading cause of blindness in the nation. Indeed, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the entire developing world.
For those who do not know, cataracts are obstructions that form in the lenses of the eyes. Although they can go undetected for years, a person often starts to notice a clouding of vision at some point. The best way to figure out if a person has cataracts is to get eye screenings done on a regular basis.
Another problem affecting Kenyans is age-related blindness. Not only is this a problem in Kenya, but also across the developing and developed world. The World Health Organization says that visual impairments are set to rise across the world in the coming decades, and it has designated this problem as a global health issue.
Health authorities in Kenya have been encouraging citizens to get their eyes checked early and often. Dr. Michael Gichangi, the head of Kenya's ophthalmic services unit, stressed the importance of regular eye checkups on World Sight Day in Kenya's capital city Nairobi.
Health officials in Kenya are also informing citizens about the importance of donating corneas to Kenya's official cornea storage facility. Many people cannot receive proper cornea transplants in Kenya because most residents either do not know or are not willing to part with their corneas after death. This means that the cornea banks in Kenya have very few fresh corneas to use for surgical procedures
Kenya's official eye cornea storage bank, called Lions SightFirst Eye Hosptial, was opened in 2010 in Nairobi. To help with the shortage of corneas currently in Nairobi, the USA has been shipping in corneas from its cornea banks.