A preliminary study conducted by the Driver and Vehicle Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) indicates that a quarter of those tested are either at an advanced stage of glaucoma or have severe symptoms.
Out of the 259 applicants tested, 82 of them, representing 31.7 per cent, had issues with glaucoma.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the authority, Mr Kwasi Agyeman Busia, said the situation posed a threat to road safety.
According to Ghana Glaucoma Association figures, an estimated 700,000 Ghanaians are living with glaucoma, a disease of the eye which has been described as the second largest cause of irreversible or incurable blindness globally.
Out of the number, 60,000 have already gone permanently blind.
“People with visual field loss from glaucoma may be slower to anticipate and respond to changes in road conditions. They may have difficulty matching speed when changing lanes and keeping in their lanes, especially when navigating curves,” Mr Busia said at the opening of the new DVLA office at Tarkwa in the Western Region.
To curtail the situation, he said the authority was considering a proposal to provide testing centres across the country to assist clients to test their eyes for glaucoma and other diseases.
With the more than 6,500 Ghanaians dying every year from air pollution, according to a research report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Mr Busia said the authority was partnering with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement national standards on vehicle emission.
“This is a very important and necessary action to reduce air pollutants. The benefits of this particular collaboration is a contribution to the government’s efforts at reducing ill health and other respiratory problems, while protecting the environment,” he said.
The Tarkwa office of the DVLA, since its establishment, has operated in a self-contained apartment due to challenges with infrastructure.
The insufficient space resulted in the unavailability of a vehicle inspection bay. The situation also made it difficult for the office to conduct in-yard tests and pre-trip tests on licence applicants.
But with the completion of the new office for the area, the Regional Licensing Manager, Mr Emmanuel T. K. Narh, said he was optimistic that beyond the conducive atmosphere that the new office offered for work, the building would also help extend vehicle registration-related activities to the Tarkwa municipality and its environs.
The Board Chairman of DVLA, Mr Frank Davies, urged the staff to be more receptive to customers, eschew laziness, lateness to work and other vices that had the tendency of ‘dipping’ the image of the authority.
“Customers/clients, like those in Tarkwa and its environs, may not have the luxury of time to waste when they visit this office, which requires that we are brisk to their request. We should remember that they are our assets and it behoves us to make them happy always,” he added.