"THE elderly are being abused, raped and not taken care of because of their poor eyesight," Gauteng health and social development MEC Qedani Mahlangu said yesterday.
Mahlangu was speaking on World Eyesight Day at Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto.
This year's theme is gender and eye health equal to care.
"This day serves as an occasion to raise awareness about the importance of eye healthcare. It is important because by 2020 the number of blind people would have decreased," she said.
"It is also important to treat our kids from an early age."
Throughout the month, the department will strengthen its campaign of educating people about the importance of taking care of their eyes to prevent causes of blindness such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
The department has also partnered with the private sector and is going to discuss ways on how to help the blind and hope to achieve that by the end of 2012.
"Discovery Health is also willing to help the government fight blindness for all those who do not have medical aid.
"We are going to visit old age homes and help those who are not on the waiting list," she said.
Mahlangu also went to St John Eye Clinic.
"I saw how the surgery is done. It's not a long procedure. It takes about 5 minutes."