GHANA – A National Eye Screening Project aimed at screening and treating children aged zero to five for all kinds of eye disease has been launched in Accra, Ghana.

The project, which is being done for free for all children across the country, is under the auspices of the Rotary Club of Accra, La East District 9102 in partnership with the Ghana Health Service (GHS), the Korle- Bu Teaching Hospital and the University of Ghana Medical School.

The project is being funded by the Rotary Club of Accra La East, Rotary Club of Detmold Blumberg in Germany and Rotary International at a total cost of 100, 000 USD.

The two-year project will identify and determine the extent of eye diseases in children under five and prevent eye diseases from becoming fatal.

Dr James Addy, Head of Eye Care, GHS, who was speaking at the launch of the project, said the screening would be done in schools, child welfare clinics and in communities for all children who availed themselves.

He said after the screening, all eye problems identified would be referred to a tertiary health facility and treated for free.

Dr Addy said although the children would be screened for all eye diseases, much focus would be given to Retinoblastoma, a cancer of the eye, which kills a lot of children.

Retinoblastoma is an eye cancer that begins in the retina, the sensitive lining on the inside of your eye. Retinoblastoma most commonly affects young children, but can rarely occur in adults.

Dr Addy said the project would help improve the survival rate of children with Retinoblastoma because it was treatable, manageable and curable when detected early.

Eye screening is an effective tool, which can be used to identify disease and conditions of the eye on time, most eye illness do not cause any pain to the eye hence the late presentation of eye problems,” he said.

We have observed that eye care is limited in Ghana, currently, there are just about 70 ophthalmologists serving a population of about 31 million, and the attention for children with eye diseases is limited,” Mr Fred Darko, Rotary President for Accra La East, said.

According to a study published on NCBI, In Ghana, it is estimated that childhood blindness accounts for 5 to 10% of the national burden of blindness, affecting an estimated 0.9 per 1000 children.

The study concludes that more than one-third of blindness in blind schools in Ghana could have been prevented by primary care interventions and nearly half could have been treated surgically to prevent visual loss. Two in five children in blind schools in Ghana could benefit from optical intervention.