More than 200,000 people living in Ghana today are blind and more than 600,000 are visually impaired. It is estimated that 80% of the cases of blindness in Ghana are preventable or treatable. Cataract blindness alone affects more than 105,000 people in Ghana, with an estimated 21,000 new cases per year. Despite the fact that many of the conditions resulting in blindness are highly treatable, there are significant barriers to effective ophthalmological treatment in Ghana. Most prominent is the acute shortage of qualified trained ophthalmologists, with estimates as low as 50 in the entire country.
Compounding this problem, is the fact that the general population of Ghana, particularly in lower socioeconomic and rural areas, is often unaware that their blindness may be curable or preventable. The primary goal of the HopeXchange Ophthalmology Program will be to reduce the rate of preventable blindness in Ghana by providing new opportunities for postgraduate education and training in ophthalmology. Based on the local needs, the Program will establish training modules in the following specialty areas:
- Cataract surgery
- Glaucoma diagnostics and treatment
- Treatment of vitreoretinal diseases
- Diagnostic and primary surgery for trauma
- Pediatric ophthalmology / Strabismus diagnostics and surgery
In addition to specialized training, the Program will establish an outpatient clinic, which will conduct screening programs to identify patients that need medical or surgical treatment.