The government has unveiled a smartphone-based application (Portable Eye Examination Kit-PEEK) that teachers can use to screen eye diseases, and specifically, identify those children with refractive errors.

The launch comes as Kenya joins the world in marking World Sight Day themed ‘Love your eyes’.

The ministry has said once the teachers are trained, they can refer the children identified for a further check-up by an eye health officer.

A statement from the Ministry of Health says the strategy calls for more emphasis on community engagement, health promotion and disease prevention.

“The Strategy is very strong in communities taking eye care as their responsibility, proactively present themselves for a check-up, even when they have no symptoms, or when they have common symptoms like itchy eyes.”, read the statement.

The government has also called on Kenyans to take the initiative and have their eyes checked regularly so that if they have treatable conditions; they can receive treatment early enough and at affordable rates.

Counties are also conducting activities to mark World Sight Day. Turkana and Elgeyo Marakwet Counties are putting up a comprehensive eye clinic and theatres.

Nairobi and Kajiado Counties are carrying out screenings and eye checkups at different sites within their counties.

About 7.5 million persons have eye diseases and conditions, which require eye care in Kenya.

Only 20% of Kenyans can access eye care services.

Half of the 250,000 persons who are blind in Kenya became blind due to age-related conditions which are treatable and curable.

The Ministry of Health said the other big problem of vision impairment is refractive errors commonly known as shortsightedness or longsightedness.

Using prescribed spectacles normally corrects the conditions, and school children are often affected.