From Idongesit Inyang
Chairman of the Nigeria Optometric Association, Cross River Chapter, has disclosed that about two million Nigerians have glaucoma.
Out of this number, about 1.8 million do not even know that they have disease, Dr. Onyebuchi Ndukwe, who revealed this to journalists in Calabar on Friday, stated that “Globally, it is estimated that about 78 million people have glaucoma.”
Ndukwe, who stated this while commemorating the 2022World Glaucoma Week (WGW), added that this number is expected to rise to 101 million by 2030 even as many Nigerians, he said, are losing sight irreversibly due to ignorance.
According to him, glaucoma is an eye disorder that causes visual impairment as a result of its effect on the optical nerves that take pictures from the eye to the brain due to intraocular pressure (IOP).
The chairman said glaucoma, which causes an irreversible loss of sight, is called the silent thief of sight because it basically has no obvious symptoms for people to see.
While appealing to Nigerians, the doctor said “whenever you notice any changes in your vision like blurriness or you begin to bump into objects while trying to move around, there is a need for you to check your eyes.”
He emphasised that there were people who are at a higher risk of contracting glaucoma, adding that if anyone falls under this category, there is need for regular screening of his or her eyes.
Ndukwe gave the categories of people who are above 40 years and from the black race, a family history of glaucoma, people with high myopia, diabetes, hypertension and most importantly unprescribed use of steroids as those that at risk.
Hear him “So, if you are below 40 years, at least once in two years, go for an eye check, for those above 40, the eyes should be checked at least once a year.
He said that “It is sad that we go for medical examinations and our blood pressure, sugar level and lipid profiles are checked but no time is taken to check the eyes,” explaining that “We have not done well in awareness creation and that isone of the essence of the WGW.
“We have talked a lot about the Human ImmunodeficiencyVirus (HIV), COVID-19 and malaria, we need to start letting people know about glaucoma,” he said.
The WGW is observed annually from March 6 to 12 with the aim to alert everyone on the need to have regular eye checks in order to detect glaucoma as early as possible.
The theme for the 2022 commemoration is “the world is bright, save your sight.”