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Alcohol consumption, malnutrition linked to cataract

*Indian Medical Mission targets 14,000 Nigerians for surgery

By Chioma Obinna

Indian Ophthalmologists carrying out free cataract surgeries for 14,000 less privileged Nigerians have identified alcohol consumption and malnutrition as major factors fuelling cases of cataract among Nigerians.

The eye specialists also raised alarm over cataract cases in Nigerian children, linking it to high level of malnutrition.

According to them, eye problems particularly, cataract in other countries of the world occur more in adults from the age of 40 and above, lamenting that the case is different in Nigeria.

Decrying the role of alcohol as major cause of cataract, Hon Secretary, Rotary Eye Institute, India, Yogesh Naik said: “We see cataract in older people from age 40 years or 50 years but it is different here. Another major cause here is malnutrition because the children did not get right nutrients and it becomes a heritage problem.  The eyes of next generation are almost going because we now found 10 and 15 years with cataract and glaucoma. Alcohol consumption recreates sugar and damages the eyes.

Naik explained that cataract is associated with aging but can occur in all ages.

He blamed the increasing number of people with cataract in Nigeria on poor awareness on eye care in the country.

“There is no enough awareness regarding eye care. Again, lack of access to treatment even though the government is doing much, but most Nigerians came in late. Some go about it for years.

He urged Nigerians to stay aware from heavy alcohol consumption as it can cause blindness.

Naik said under the annual ‘Mission for Vision’s free eye screening & operative Camp, supported by Indian Businessmen in Nigeria, a total of 25,000 Nigerians have been treated free of charge, out of which 17,000 have been operated for cataract.

“We have transplanted five Nigerians who have no eyes at all with eyes from India. Today, they can see and are back to their normal lives.

Expressing gratitude to Lagos and Ogun State governments for their support, he said: “This year we have detected more than 2000 patients for cataract and terrigium but we are operating only 1000 people because the other 1000 are hypertensive and diabetic, two dangerous diseases.  He disclosed that within the next few years, the club would be completing an eye hospital in Lagos where poor people can be treated free of charge.

Speaking,Tarun Sanghvi,who explained that the mission were being organised by Rotary Club of Palmgroove, Rotary International, RC of Banglore, India, and Rptary Club of Lagos said the club is targeting 14,000 cataract surgeries this year.

On the ongoing programme, Sanghvi who disclosed that the surgery slated 4th of September to end 24 September, 2016 said no fewer than 100 free surgeries are carried out daily.

A past president of Rotary, N.G. Patel who noted that most of the Indian Business people have lived here for over 50 years said the annual programme was part of their contributions to the to improve the quality life of lives of Nigerians.

On his part, a Trustee member of Indo Eye Foundation, Dr Mirami Deep said the organisation has been supporting the programme for over 10 years and have supported the treatment of about 20,000 Nigerians.

One of the beneficiaries, a 71- year- old, Mr Bamidele Ajani who expressed gratitude to Rotary narrated how the search for cure for his cataract led him to so many places.

“For seven years I have been carrying this cross but today, I am free, all thanks to Rotary Club that did the surgery free of charge.  When I heard about it from my friend in the church I never believed it until today.  I am happy I can see again.”


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