“I can still see my dreams, even if I cannot see them with my eyes," says Joseph Matheatau, South Africa’s first qualified blind barista.

We only get one pair of eyes in life, so keeping track of the health of our eyes should be a priority.

About 80% of the world's blind are avoidably so, and that Myopia (short-sightedness) is predicted to rise by 34% in the year 2020, says The International Agency for The Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).

Just like scheduling our yearly physicals, or even maintaining a healthy diet plan, taking good care of the eyes is just as important!

With our busy lives and the fast pace of our current world, it is easy to forget about the importance of visiting optometrists for regular check-ups and eye examination, but fortunately the World Health Organization (WHO), annually promotes recognition on such dilemmas, while also raising public awareness on blindness and visual impairment.

Today marks World Sight Day, with the theme for this year being “Make Vision Count”, encouraging people to be wary of their eye health condition.

World Sight Day is an annual event by the WHO, in association with the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness.  

In a bid to raise awareness on the issue of global blindness, the day aims to provides much needed advice tips, prevention measures, and treatment to consider for people who suffer from vision loss.

After losing his eyesight at the age of three, Joseph Matheatau, South Africa’s first qualified blind barista could have given up on life, but instead, overcoming the odds was more of where his focus was.

Speaking about  the issue of vision loss, Joseph said life had been challenging at first, but finding strength had helped him appreciate his gift of being the coffee maker he always wanted to be.

“Losing your eyesight is not easy at all. In fact, it’s like losing a diamond that was in your hand. You feel so lost at first, but having people wiping away your tears and supporting you, just keeps you going,” he said.

Speaking about World Sight Day, he advised people to consider doing regular eye checks when experiencing  signs of poor eyesight or changes in their vision.

“I would say that this day is a very important one because some people are unaware of the underlying issues of blindness, or at least signs leading to it.

People should take the issue very seriously because losing your eyesight is not easy at all, especially not getting early treatment for things like glaucoma, one of the causes of blindness which led to my vision loss,” he said.

Based at the Blindiana Barista, a coffee shop in Worcester, Joseph said he was grateful that in spite of being blind, he was still able to fulfill his wish to do something with his life.

“I can still see my dreams, even if I cannot see them with my eyes”.


* For more World Sight Day stories, check out today's Cape Times.