A total of 491 patients have undergone ocular prosthesis services since the establishment of the unit at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) in September 2013.
This was disclosed at the 10th anniversary celebration of the unit on the theme, “Ocular Prosthesis Awareness: The Journey so far”.
An ocular prosthesis or artificial eye is a synthetic eye that is meant to mimic the appearance of a natural eye.
It is put in place of a natural eye that has been destroyed as a result of injury or disease and although one cannot see with the eye, it can help a patient’s face appear almost indistinguishable from someone with two working eyes.
The Chief Ocularist at the Ocular Prosthesis Unit of KBTH, Evelyn Kyereh, who disclosed this, said the services were needed by patients who had difficulty replacing their lost eye due to trauma or cancer of the eye.
“Customized ocular prosthesis is manufactured to improve the comfort and confidence of a patient or client and also protect the eye socket from infection, "she explained.
Ms Kyereh advised that people should not visit the pharmacy to buy eye drops without prescription when they have redness in the eye from infections such as Apollo, a bacterial or viral infection.
She noted that it could be any number of things such as pressure in the eye, eye cancer, allergies, dry eye, among others which might lead to a loss of an eye and would need to be addressed by a professional.
“If you get an infection in the eye such as Apollo, you cannot walk into any pharmacy and buy eye drops.
It is not advisable.
Redness of the eye should not be ignored", she added.
Ms Kyereh explained that when there was infection in the eye, the eye shrank and sank into the eye socket.
She said one needed surgery to remove the infected eye and replace it with a manufactured prosthesis.
“Each ocular prosthesis is hand sculpted, hand painted and polished to fit and look like the natural eye”, she stated.
She noted that the department hoped to train more ocularists in all the regional hospitals to reduce the distance covered by clients/patients to access the service.
Ms Kyereh said since its establishment by Oculoplastic surgeons, Dr Mark Alford, Dr Edith Dogbe and the then Head of Department of Korle Bu Lions International Eye Centre, Dr Stephen Akafo, they have trained six professionals within and outside the country including Uganda, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
In total, 539 ocular prosthesis services have taken place in eight West African states with 491 in Ghana,14 in Ivory Coast,10 in Togo, nine in Mali, five each in Liberia and Burkina Faso, three in Niger and two in The Gambia.