The world is a blurry place for almost half a million young South Africans.
This is according to a new Youth Explorer portal launched by the University of Cape Town on Youth Day.
It shares crucial data on issues affecting the youth of our country‚ and it reveals that around 450‚000 South African youths are experiencing difficulty in seeing‚ even when using glasses.
At 4%‚ visual impairment is the biggest problem in the category of general health and functioning – compared with the second biggest categories which are at 1% and include problems with walking‚ communication‚ hearing‚ and self-care.
According to the portal‚ the country has around 10-million youth between the ages of 15 to 24.
Of those 10-million youths living around the country‚ 4% of youth in Mpumalanga‚ Western Cape‚ KZN and Eastern Cape experience difficulty in seeing even when wearing glasses.
In Gauteng and the Northern Cape and North-West Province it is 5%‚ and in Limpopo‚ 3%.
The real outlier‚ with a staggering figure of 8%‚ is the Free State.
According to Lene Øverland‚ CEO of Orbis Africa‚ which aims towards ensuring access to eye-health services for all in the region‚ visual impairment of youth affects families and communities‚ not just the individual.
“If the eyes are the window to the soul‚ they are also a window onto the enormous role that young people play in communities in Africa. That is why it is everybody’s business – from the global community to the individual family – to ensure that no young people‚ who are in the prime of their lives‚ are needlessly blind or visually impaired.”
Female youth are particularly vulnerable when compared with young men‚ she added.
In Africa‚ women are 1.4 times more likely to go blind than men and 57% of the vision-impaired in South Africa are women.
“Eye health conditions are a major setback for the youth‚ because of the lost potential in economic activity whether in the formal or informal sector. Not only does bad eye health curtail their ability to be breadwinners‚ it sets them up as a burden to their families and they are also often ostracised. Many conditions are treatable and preventable‚ but there is a lack of awareness around this.”