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May 2021 2nd edition

New clinic for low vision patients

Written by Silusapho Nyanda

People with vision impairment will soon get treatment that can restore their sight − thanks to the new Jannie Mouton Low Vision Clinic.

The clinic is situated within the Cape Town Society for the Blind’s (CTSB) Salt River Campus in the Western Cape. The clinic assists five million South Africans that suffer from low vision.

Low vision is a condition caused by eye disease where one’s ability to identify shapes and words is poor. Low vision cannot be corrected or improved with regular spectacles.  Optometrist Suna Karsten conducting an eye test with Avril Davids, a CTSB Braille facilitator.

CTSB’s chief executive officer Lizelle de Wet says low vision can be in the form of partial sight, blurred vision, blind spots, night halos, partial blindness and tunnel vision. “Being classified as low vision ranges from light to severe impairment. Each case is different and requires subjective treatment and care.”

The clinic is equipped with an auto refractor machine, which is used to measure the efficiency of a person’s eyesight when prescribing spectacles.

According to de Wet, visual impairment disrupts the livelihood of people who are partially blind. She says an estimated 97 percent of all blind and partially sighted people in South Africa are unemployed. She added that over 90 percent of people that go blind in their youth don’t work for more than six months in their entire lives.

“I believe that utilising this clinic could ultimately significantly improve the employability of thousands of South Africans suffering from low vision,” De Wet says.

The CTSB says one of the main advantages of the low vision clinic is that after assessing the eye condition of the patient, the clinic has the ability to also provide assistive devices.

The clinic has received numerous funders which include the National Development Agency which contributed over R500 000. The NDA’s funding has been used for training staff; buying furniture and assistive, sensory and visual devices, including playing and learning equipment.

The Jannie Mouton Low Vision Clinic can be reached by calling the CTSB on 021 448 4302 or by sending an email to info@ctsb.org.za.