Original Research

Visual impairment in South Africa: achieve-ments and challenges

H.S. Sacharowitz
African Vision and Eye Health | South African Optometrist: Vol 64, No 4 | a239 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aveh.v64i4.239 | © 2005 H.S. Sacharowitz | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 December 2005 | Published: 19 December 2005

About the author(s)

H.S. Sacharowitz, Department of Optometry, University of Johannesburg, PO Box 524, Auckland Park, 2006, South Africa

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Abstract

Estimates of the prevalence and causes of visual impairment in South Africa are reviewed against the existing services and limitations in the country. The magnitude1 of visual impair-ment  and  the  projected  increase  worldwide over the coming decades have been recognized as having potentially far-reaching social, eco-nomic and quality of life implications for not only the affected individuals but also for their families and communities. Two-thirds or more of all blindness is avoidable, in that the causes are  preventable  or  treatable.2,  3  Early  detec-tion, prevention and management programs are needed to reduce the impact of visual impair-ment. Approximately 80% of the South African population is indigent, relying on public hospi-tals and clinics and the remaining 20% of the population has access to private health care.4 As the majority of eye care professionals are in private practice, access to eye care services are available to only a minority of the population. This paper reviews the current services in South Africa and the challenges that lie ahead.

Keywords

Low vision, visual impairment, blindness, visual impairment in Africa, public health

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