With an ever-increasing number of vision problem, People from across the country have cramped at the Sight Savers at Connaught Hospital, on Tuesday 24th October 2023, for free eye screening and glasses.
The free eye screening and the donation of the free glasses were courtesy of Ruta De La Luz Foundation from Spain in partnership with the Sierra Leone Bottling Company.
Forty-five-year-old Saline Bendu, a beneficiary expressed her appreciation to the team from Spain and the SL Bottling Company for the gesture. Bendu revealed that she never imagined having glasses, for she cannot afford them.
“Before I was being screened, I could hardly see clearly through my naked eye, but the glasses have brought me joy, for I can now see clearly,” she told Awoko Newspaper with great joy.
Optometrist from Spain, Marta Victori, who also represents Ruta De La Luz Foundation disclosed that she and her colleague optometrist intend to stay for a week to provide these services. The team, according to Victori, sees eighty patients each day, adding that they screen patients and share glasses with those who need them.
Victori revealed that her foundation paid for the glasses, while SL Bottling Company paid for the journey and the station.
The Human Resources, Public Affairs and Communications Manager, Sierra Leone Bottling Company, Mrs. Theresa Carew recounted that the gesture had lasted for a couple of years, noting that the last time the team from Spain visited Sierra Leone in 2019, they did cataract surgery, but noted that this time around they do screening and provide glasses at no cost.
According to Madam Carew, the gesture which is targeting 500 people is part of SL Bottling Company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Project. Carew mentioned other medical support to several hospitals in the country.
The Acting program Manager of the National Eye Health Program, Ministry of Health (MOH) Sheku Alhaji Koroma recounted that the Rapid Assessment on avoidable blindness done in 2020/2021 speaks volumes about refractive health in the country, hence, the need for support in that regard.
According to Koroma, “there are millions of Sierra Leoneans that needed glasses but cannot afford it, for it is expensive. The number one factor why people are showing up for refractive health and fewer of those patients are getting glasses is the lack of money,” he furthered.
Sixty-six-year-old Kadiatu Sogbandi told Awoko that she had had challenges with reading without glasses. Sogbandi added that she screened her eyes a long time ago, but hadn’t the money to get herself a glasses. She expressed her appreciation to the team from Spain and SL Bottling Company for the gesture. “Unlike previously, I can now clearly read writings,” she disclosed.
The Acting Program Manager, Koroma expressed his appreciation to the team, noting that this is the biggest thing that has happened to these patients.
As the saying goes, “prevention is better than cure” Koroma recommends that people do eye screening at least once every year. “There are a host of eye conditions that would come quietly and won’t tell you what’s going on until you get blind,” Koroma revealed.
He further recommends that “if you have a blind family member, know that you are also at risk of contracting blindness, and must endeavor to do eye screening at least two times a year.”
“If you are thirty-five-years old and above, you need glasses, so please try and get yourself a glasses, and lastly, ensure that your children don’t play around sharps, for it may amount to injury to the eye, leading to blindness,” he added.
Koroma also issued a warning to women who fix eyelashes on their eyes. “There is a very delicate structure in front of the eye that can be abraded and may cause blindness,” he went on. SKS 26/10/2023