Photo by MontyLov on Unsplash

Every year, the second Thursday of October is marked as World Sight Day, which is used to highlight problems faced by the visually impaired and blind communities.

The majority of visually impaired or blind cases are treatable but either due to no medical facilities nearby or the lack of information, these people go untreated. 

“Early access to the child support grant is associated with improved nutritional, health and education outcomes for children,” said senior researcher at the Children’s Institute and co-author of the South African Early Childhood review 2017 Katharine Hall in a recent statement.

The people who are most affected are the youth and the elderly.

According to the chairperson of KZN Society for the Blind, Bulelwa Mbolekwa, schools are very limited. 

She said: “Boarding schools are one of the only solutions parents have, they struggle to pay the tuition because it's very expensive.”

The greatest issue that the blind face is unemployment. 

Mbolekwa said: “No matter how they strive to do better and get degrees, employment is always the challenge. They can't get learnerships or internships for them to learn or grow, and they aren't able to show their skills.” 

The second issue is the elderly becoming blind. 

“When they become blind there aren't many things they can do, and there is a gap in the system that's lacking for the blind. This isn’t an issue that just affects the rural areas but it also affects people living in urban areas” she said.

According to The Adopt A School Foundation (AAS) at least 239 million children around the world suffer from impaired vision that could be corrected by spectacles. 

Head of Skills and Social Development at AAS Banyana Mohajane said: “Rather than tackle an individual issue, World Sight Day (WSD) works to improve the school holistically by focusing on the academic, infrastructural, social, and security environment in which a school operates. This includes issues such as learner health and well-being, and includes eyesight testing” she said.

The Mercury