Lacking protective pigment at the back of their eyes, people with oculocutaneous albinism all experience visual impairment of one kind or another. These include extreme sensitivity to light (photophobia), involuntary eye movements (nystagmus), blurring caused by imperfection in the curvature of the eye (astigmatism) and general poor vision. These issues are currently overlooked and neglected in Uganda. Children and teenagers with albinism struggle to study at school, often have to repeat classes and lack confidence in keeping up with their peers.
Working with SNUPA, Advantage Africa is aiming to help 200 children with oculocutaneous albinism across the Busoga sub-region of Uganda to have eye tests and receive appropriate spectacles and other low vision aids.
We have supported sixty children and young people in 2018, aged between six and twenty-one, who now have significantly improved vision. This is helping them to reach their potential in school and college and also ensures they feel more self- assured and safe in their daily lives.
We work with experienced local optometrist Claire Walusimbi and her team in Jinja, eastern Uganda, to hold eye clinics to assess children’s vision needs.
Expert assessment is required to assess the best intervention required to improve vision for people with albinism. These include prescription photo-chromic (react-to-light) spectacles, monoculars and magnifiers.
The provision of vision aids is just one part of ensuring that children with albinism can reach their academic potential. These precious resources must go alongside awareness-raising amongst parents, staff and pupils so that children with albinism are supported appropriately in the classroom, can sit near the blackboard and away from bright light.