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

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

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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.


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


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