The global theme for Eye Care Awareness Month of October and World Sight Day [October 12th is Love your eyes].
During World Retina Week, Retina South Africa would like to remind all South Africans to have an eye check to ensure they do not have any hidden visual problems. Claudette Medefindt, Head of Science for Retina South Africa states
“Many serious visual problems such as Glaucoma and Age-Related Macular Degeneration may not be noticed by people until it is almost too late for treatment. Regular eye checks will ensure early detection and effective treatment”.
Retina South Africa would also like to appeal for assistance for young South Africans whose vision loss is at this time, untreatable. Retinal genetic conditions such as Retinitis Pigmentosa, Stargardt Disease and Usher Syndrome, affect around 17 000 South Africans under the age of 35.
Genetic retinal conditions are most frequently diagnosed in families with no previous history of blindness and over 10 million South Africans are estimated to carry a single copy of a gene mutation for a genetic retinal disease. When two carriers marry, their children may inherit a double copy of the gene mutation and thus the disease.
Global research into gene specific therapies, pharmaceutical interventions, antioxidants, Optogenetics and Stem Cells is making tremendous progress to advance these interventions to registered treatments. We need to ensure that our young people are not left behind.
“The first step towards the promise of a sighted future for these young people is a genetic diagnosis, to identify those who are eligible for trials and imminent therapies. These tests are expensive and are not available at State Hospitals and nor are they reimbursed by medical funders. At R10 000 many families cannot afford this vital test. If we can save the sight of these young people, we can save 1 million blind years.”
If you would like to assist please donate through Retina South Africa’s website www.retinasa.org.za or nominate them as your beneficiary at www.myschool.co.za