There have been grand turnout of people with eye related diseases in the last few years.
Outreach programmes organised for 50 people, for instance, usually witness turnout of thousands of people in need of drugs, medicated glasses or one surgery or the other.
Such programmes are nowadays organised by religious and corporate organisations, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members, military and paramilitary organisations, international donors and Nigerians in Diaspora. They offer free surgeries and outreaches for those who need treatment to salvage or restore their sight.
“The eye is not only the window to the soul, but sight is the chief of all senses in the human body, and we can go to any length to protect and preserve it,” said an ophthalmologist, Dr. Emenike Prince Henry, who is a 2015 batch ‘B’ corps member.
Henry who was speaking when he organised a free eye screening and treatment exercise in Kaduna recently and attended by over 2,000 residents benefited, said, “Whatever impairs our vision results to incapacitation and affects our survival and productivity directly or indirectly.“
Experts have said that many factors have led to this situation among a large section of the population. They identified glaucoma and cataract as the major causes of blindness in Nigeria.
A resident doctor and an ophthalmologist with the National Eye Centre, Kaduna, Dr.Eze Ugochukwu, in an interview said a number of things are responsible for the rising cases of eye diseases and blindness in Nigeria.
He listed them as:
“It is possible we are beginning to diagnose more than we do before. It also depends on the type of eye illness. We have many cases of cataract now because people are living long to the age of having age related cataract. Some others run in the family.
- Uncorrected or Refractive error
“That is people who either refused to use glasses or who are ignorant. Other eye illnesses are glaucoma, river blindness and diabetic retinopathy among others,” he said.
“Diabetic retinopathy is an eye illness that occurs in people that are diabetic. It is on the rise because of the increase in cases of diabetes. Nigeria is said to have the highest burden of diabetes in the world,” Dr. Ugochukwu said.
- River Blindness
Nigeria also has high burden of river blindness because of close location to rivers.
“River blindness on its own part can be cured but attention seems to be focused on prevention rather than cure,” he also said.
According to Dr. Rukayya Musbahu Na’iya, a registrar in Opthalmology at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU) Teaching Hospital, Bauchi, next to cataract is glaucoma.
She added that unlike cataract which shows early warning signs, glaucoma slowly affects the optic nerves bringing total blindness.