Cambodia has ambitions to reduce the prevalence of blindness by lowering its rate to 0.35 per cent by 2030, while the Kingdom has already achieved a reduction in its rate from 1.2 to 0.37 per cent between 1995 to 2019, according to the Ministry of Health.

In a press release marking World Sight Day on October 13, the ministry said it is developing a strategic plan to study the causes of blindness and prevent it and aims to reduce the blindness rate to 0.35 per cent by 2030.

"The health ministry has developed the third National Strategic Plan for Blindness Prevention and Control 2021-2030, with the ambitious goal of reducing the prevalence of blindness to 0.35 per cent by 2030,” it said.

It added that in Cambodia, the problem of blindness and impaired vision is a public health issue that could largely be solved with more effort and resources because 90 per cent of the blindness and vision impairment is avoidable and treatable.

“[The] result of the “blind prevention and control” plan has lowered the rate from 1.2 per cent in 1995 to 0.37 per cent in 2019,” it said.

The ministry highlighted the government’s outstanding achievements over the past 27 years which has seen many organisations and individuals working together to prevent and control blindness.

The ministry noted that there are 60 senior ophthalmologists, 103 regular ophthalmologists, 158 eye care nurses and 105 optometrists working with the ministry and there is also basic eye health training course for health centre staff and short courses on surgery and skill development.

In terms of infrastructure, at present, Cambodia has facilities for eye health in Phnom Penh and the provinces, with four central hospitals providing eye services along with 22 referral hospitals and 18 eye care centres.

According to the ministry, in 2021 there were 415,502 screening and treatment services provided and 32,905 eye surgeries performed.

The ministry said that the lack of vitamin A as a source of blindness has been eliminated and blindness due to eczema is no longer a public health problem either.

It called on all citizens to examine their eye at the eye care facilities in Phnom Penh and provinces at lease every two years.

They recommend that people over the age of 40 whose family has a history of glaucoma, high pressure in the eyes, vision impairment, diabetes or high blood pressure or who have a history of smoking or wear glasses go for an eye check-up every year.

To celebrate World Sight Day, the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh has announced free eye examinations for everyone on October 13-14.

Sok Kheng, manager of the children’s ophthalmology unit at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, said that the free eye examinations would be held from 8am to noon and from 2pm-5pm on each of those days on a first come, first serve basis.

She said that on October 13, somewhere between 60 and 80 people came in to get free eye check-ups at the hospital.

"The problems that they have come in for included cataracts, pterygium, glaucoma caused by diabetes and pediatric eye diseases," she said.