As Nigerians join the rest of the world to mark this year “World Glaucoma Week” usually celebrated on the second week of March annually, to create awareness on the disease and offer eye screening to members of the public. An ophthalmologist has advised Nigerians to go for eye check regularly, to protect them against blindness from glaucoma, stating that early detection is key.
Speaking with newsmen at a press conference organised by MeCure Healthcare Limited, Lagos, to mark this year World Glaucoma Day, themed: “Green = Go get your eyes tested for Glaucoma: Save Your Sight”, Dr Adegboyega Alabi, a consultant ophthalmologist and chief operating officer, Me Cure Eye Centre, said a lot of people, in spite of growing awareness on glaucoma, do not have their eyes checked regularly.
According to him, glaucoma is a disease that aects the nerve that is in the eyes and this nerve is the optic nerve. The nerves is what connects the eye to the brain and whatever the eye sees that message is taken by this optic nerve to the brain for us to see. But when this optic nerve is diseased, then one is said to have that disease called glaucoma.
“Glaucoma is a serious eye disease and if it’s left untreated, it leads to gradual worsening of vision or blindness. Once incurred, the visual damage is mostly irreversible, and this has led to glaucoma being described as the “thief of sight”, so early detection is essential to limiting visual impairment and preventing the progression towards complete blindness,” he advised
The ophthalmologist, however, pointed out some factors that can predispose people to glaucoma, saying if one has a family history of glaucoma, particularly, first degree relatives such as father, mother or relatives, the person will likely have it. He further disclosed that an individual is also likely to have it, if he is above 40, with high pressure on the eye, especially if he is an African.
While disclosing that over 200 million people globally are suffering from visual impairment of which glaucoma contributes about 41 million, the expert however urged the Nigerian government to take steps to halt the increasing incidence of glaucoma amongst the citizens and as well help in reducing the cost of medications for treating glaucoma and other related eye diseases, noting that cost of treatment for glaucoma is quite high especially for the aged who are often most affected by the disease.
However, population studies in Nigeria recently revealed that 5.02-6.9 per cent (1.8million) of people over 40 years suffer from glaucoma with almost 360,000(20 per cent) of them blind in both eyes.
Also speaking, Dr. Martins Nwabuzor, an optometric and outreach coordinator, Mecure Diagnostics Centre, noted that the most challenging eye diseases for both doctors and patients in most parts of the world is glaucoma, saying it’s the leading cause of irreversible blindness against which an immediate action is imperative and has no symptoms at the initial stages.
According to him, it is against the background that Me Cure Diagnostic Centre is organising a three-day free eye screening for the public to create awareness on Glaucoma and also to celebrate the2018 edition of World Glaucoma Week, adding that the aim of the free screening is to help reduce the occurrence of the disease among Nigerians.
Nwabuzor, however, advised Nigerians to go for the regular eye check, saying with adequate awareness about glaucoma, the sight of more people could be saved and the prevalence of glaucoma could be reduced.