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The availability and accessibility of low vision services in Ashanti and Brong Ahafo Regions of Ghana.

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Background: The prevalence of low vision on the African continent is generally high and varies across and within countries, as well as in people of different socioeconomic status. While regional studies on the prevalence of blindness and low vision in Ghana have been conducted, there is a lack of information on the availability and accessibility of low vision services in these regions. The aim of the study was to assess the availability and accessibility of low vision services in the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions of Ghana. Methods: This was a descriptive, quantitative, cross-sectional study design. Hand-delivered semi-structured questionnaires were used to collect information from eye care professionals selected from 58 eye care facilities within the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions of Ghana. In addition, face-to-face interviews were conducted with 29 low vision patients from the same regions. Results: Forty-four eye care facilities from the Ashanti region and 10 from the Brong Ahafo region responded to the questionnaire, giving an overall response rate of 93%. A total of 29 patients including 16 males and 13 females with a mean age of 33.79±17.42 years were interviewed from four different eye care facilities. Out of 50 eye care facilities who reported that they had low vision patients attending their clinics, 33 (66%) did not provide low vision services and 17 (34%) offered some form of this service. Eleven out of 15 (73.3%) patients reported that it was either difficult or very difficult to acquire optical low vision devices while 10 (83.3%) out of 12 patients reported the same about non-optical low vision devices. Of the 15 patients who responded to the questions on where they obtained their optical devices, 7 (47%) reported that they were donated to them, 2 (13%) obtained them from the market while 6 (40%) reported getting their devices from the hospitals or eye care facilities. For non-optical devices, the patients reported obtaining them from the market 5 (31%) and through donations 5 (31%). Others obtained them from the society for the blind 2 (15%), hospitals or eye clinics 2 (15%) and a resource centre 1 (8%). Barriers to the provision and uptake of low vision services included the lack of testing equipment, lack of assistive devices and high cost of services. Conclusions: Availability and accessibility of low vision services are limited in the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions. These findings should help to inform interventions to make low vision services available and accessible as well as to overcome the barriers to providing and utilising these services to minimise the impact of visual impairment.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville.