1.8m Nigerians unaware they have Glaucoma: Optometrist Ndukwe

Signs of glaucoma

Signs of glaucoma

By Christian Njoku/Calabar

Many Nigerians are losing their sight to glaucoma irreversibly due to ignorance, Dr. Onyebuchi Ndukwe, an optometrist has said.

Ndukwe, who is the chairman of the Nigeria Optometric Association, Cross River spoke in Calabar on Friday while commemorating the World Glaucoma Week (WGW).

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 expert 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.

According to him, it is estimated that about 2 million Nigerians have glaucoma but about 1.8 million don’t even know that they have glaucoma.

“Globally, it is estimated that about 78 million people have glaucoma and this number is expected to rise to 101 million by 2030,” he said.

The chairman advised Nigerians to go for regular eye checks whenever they noticed any changes in vision like blurriness or begin to bump into objects while trying to move around.

He noted that there were people who were at a higher risk of contracting glaucoma adding that if anyone fell under this category, there was need for regular screening of his or her eyes.

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“The categories are people who are above 40 years and from the black race, a family history of glaucoma, people with high myopia, diabetes, hypertension and most important, unprescribed use of steroids.

“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.

“Meanwhile those above 50 years should check their eyes twice in a year, this is the only way you can be sure that you have contracted glaucoma or not.

“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.

“We have not done well in awareness creation and that is one of the essence of the WGW.

“We have talked a lot about the Human Immune Virus (HIV), COVID-19 and malaria, we need to start letting people know about glaucoma,” he said.

He said everyone should be singing the glaucoma song because it was gradually becoming an epidemic due to ignorance and vision loss through glaucoma is irreversible.

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.”

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