World Sight Day: 4 Million Nigerians Blind, As Lagos Fights Scourge


As the world celebrates World Sight Day, at least four million Nigerians are said to be blind.

Meanwhile the Lagos State Government says it has adopted three core strategies as part of efforts aimed at achieving the objective of Vision 2020.

The strategies are infrastructure and technology development, incorporation of the principle of primary health care and human resource development.

At an event marking the World Sight Day in Lagos, southwest Nigeria, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Health, Mr. Toyin Amzat, said statistics from the World Health Organisation, WHO, revealed that four million Nigerians are blind while 45 million people worldwide suffer from avoidable blindness.

He, however, explained that the objective of Vision 2020, the global initiative for the elimination of avoidable blindness, was formally launched by the WHO in 1999.

The vision has since been vigorously pursued by government, leading to the establishment of the Lagos State Blindness Prevention Programme in 2000, through the creation of awareness, conducting free eye-screening, distribution of free glasses, drugs and performing free eye surgery.

Amzat stated that the programme had reached out to 339,409 people in various communities with 113,663 people benefiting from free eye glasses and another 25,489 people had free eye surgery to restore their vision while 34,138 pupils in various schools had also been screened.

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“At the primary level, all the functional primary health centres in the state are equipped to offer primary eye care services vis-a-vis vision screening, eye health education, free treatment for conjunctivitis and prompt referral of more difficult cases to designated secondary eye units.

“Presently, the installation of vision corridors, a self testing painted wall is on-going in all the local council areas in collaboration with the Save-A-Sight Foundation,” he said.

According to him, at the secondary level, eight General Hospitals have been equipped to investigate and manage cataract, glaucoma and render other secondary eye care services just as there is a dedicated eye institute at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) to render tertiary eye care services.

“All these units are managed by skilled and efficient eye care personnel. In terms of training development, 157 primary eye care workers have been trained; three ophthalmologists were made to undergo training in small incision cataract surgery, two in phaco-surgery, and one in medical retinal specialist. As part of our action plan in 2011, all ophthalmologists in Lagos State will be trained in small incision cataract surgery,” Amzat explained.

He stressed that emphasis would be placed on the training and retraining of the state ophthalmic team and sub specialization of ophthalmologist, adding that low-vision centres and optical workshops would be established in health facilities across the state.

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