Eyecare Businesses Reap Big As Telecommuters Seek Optical Services
The COVID-19 pandemic which hit the world in late 2019 came as a mixed bag of fortunes for virtually every economic sector in the world.
In Kenya, the first case was reported on March 2020 and this marked the beginning of the ‘new normal’ with more workers forced to work from home.
All sectors in the country have suffered in one way or the other since the onset of the virus which has so far claimed more than 5 million people globally.
One sector that gained a lot of mileage from the pandemic was the eyecare business, as people started working from home and staying at home thus spent more time on their screens.
According to Diana Langat, an optometrist at Lapaire glasses, an optical clinic operating across the continent, the working from home directive meant that people got to work on their computers and laptops.
Langat noted the prolonged exposure to blue rays emitted by computer screens had adverse effects to their eyes.
“Due to this factor, we have seen increased demand for computer protective glasses, while other patients came complaining of other eyesight related issues,” Langat told Capital Business in a recent interview.
Although availability of data is limited due to lack of local studies, Lapaire glasses tested over 60,000 people across the continent, 60 per cent of whose visual impairment were due to refractive errors, hence preventable.
“People don’t know that it is essential to rest from their screen regularly during the day, following the 20-20-20 rule : every 20 mins, take a 20 seconds break and look at 20 feets (by the window for instance) to avoid strains and discomfort symptoms,” said Langat.
The World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that globally, nearly one billion people have a vision impairment that could have been prevented or has yet to be addressed.
According to WHO, over 550 million people need glasses but only one per cent wears them.
Types of refractive errors are myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), presbyopia (loss of near vision with age), and astigmatism, a problem caused by an error in the shape of the cornea.
Langat, said different factors have contributed to the high number of Kenyans with an impaired vision which includes poverty, lack of public awareness of vision problems, difficult and expensive access to ophthalmologists and optometrists, high cost of frames and lens for eyeglasses, and the non-coverage of optical care by many employers.
In Kenya, the Ministry of Health estimates that 7.5 million people are in need of interventions to prevent loss of vision, restore vision or need rehabilitation to improve performance.
The most common Eye Defect in Kenya is Myopia which is also known as Short Sightedness, and in the second place it is presbyopia commonly known as Long sightedness, data from the ministry shows.
Further, rates of visual loss tend to increase five-fold in each 20-year age cohort.
Females have higher prevalence of visual loss than males over age 20, and certain geographical areas have markedly higher rates.