Some 35 000 people in KwaZulu-Natal are blind due to treatable cataracts, and 1 270 of them are children.
Dr Susan Levine’s paper The Miracle Workers: Obstacles and opportunities for restoring sight to children in KwaZulu-Natal plots the challenges facing children at risk of blindness in the province and the multiple socioeconomic and cultural obstacles that need to be overcome to prevent blindness due to cataracts. The paper will be published in the next edition of the Journal of Anthropology Southern Africa.
Dr Susan Levine found that in KwaZulu-Natal a lack of attention to eye care at the primary health level, the lack of information about cataracts, and a deep fear of biomedical interventions result in a treatable condition like cataract in children remaining untreated.
The early detection of childhood cataracts – lens opacity that develops in children either from birth, or due to systemic conditions or trauma – is critical for preventing childhood blindness. With cataracts being the leading cause of surgically treatable blindness in children in poor settings, the timing of surgery for cataract removal is critical; vision never develops normally if surgery is delayed for an extended period.
Levine, a senior lecturer at UCT’s School of African and Gender Studies, Anthropology and Linguistics, found that a lack of attention to eye care at the primary health level, the lack of information about cataracts, and a deep fear of biomedical interventions were among the reasons this treatable eye condition goes untreated.
“I tread lightly on the thorny issue of culture in medical anthropology by placing greater emphasis on the political economy of healthcare, but not so lightly that I erase the presence of the ancestors, the weight of generational hierarchy and power, and the structural forces of history that sustain uneven access to medical care,” explained Levine.
“There are approximately 383 920 known blind people in South Africa, with a ratio of six ophthalmologists per million people. Although eye disease is considered a ‘low-impact’ affliction in this country, for the afflicted who cannot see, it is a significant gateway to the world, which remains closed.”….
read more: http://www.healthcanal.com/eyes-vision/55832-groundbreaking-research-to-impact-childhood-blindness-in-africa.html
source: Health Canal

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