By ChiomaObinna & Olayinka Latona
As part of activities to mark this year’s World Sight Day, the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) has commenced free eye surgery for 100 underprevileged Nigerians with cataracts within the next one month.
The surgery according to LUTH management is being done with the latest technique; minimally invasive surgery that would allow patients to see almost immediately.
In a chat with Good Health Weekly during the screening exercise to mark the Day in Lagos, the Chief Medical Director of the Hospital, Prof Akin Oshibogun said the hospital decided to embark on such intervention because of its obvious impact on the people.
According to him, “The technique to be used involves removing the cataract and putting the artificial lens and the person will be able to see almost immediately. The technology of glaucoma is always there but the outcome is not as sharp as that of cataracts.”
Osibogun advised Nigerians to take proper care of their eyes by visiting qualified ophthalmologist to check their eyes. “When you are above 30 or 35 there is need to check your eyes regularly because some regenerating changes start occurring from the age of 35.
There are some other causes of eye problems and we need to be careful on taking care of our eyes although some diseases run in the family. Children should not be slapped on the eyes because when you slap them they might develop cataracts later in life. The most important thing is to have the eye regularly checked and when any disease or effect is detected, early measures can be taken to minimise complications. People should visit their ophthalmologist at least once in a year”.
He stressed the need for stakeholders to pay more attention to eye problems because the eye is a very important organ of the body and that is “why we are marking the World Sight Day in the hospital.”
On what could cause eye problems, he said “Basically there are occupational hazards that can cause eye problems like welders, who expose themselves to welding light and that can cause some damage to the retina. Anything that can expose the eye to potential trauma is a source of damage to the eye and anything that can cause rays of light is also hazardous. It is also important not to look directly at the sunlight”.
Also speaking, a Consultant Ophthalmologist and Head of Department, Guinness Eye centre, Olufisayo Aribaba, LUTH, who noted that the prevalence of blindness is growing globally, said many Nigerian Nigerians are going blind needlessly.
Aribaba who noted that some of the eye problems could be prevented by mere immunisations of children with Vitamin A and measles vaccination called on the Federal Government to create a Blindness Prevention Directorate at the Federal Ministry of Health to specifically oversee strategies aimed at checking the prevalence of preventable blindness in the country.
He called on Nigerians to be weary of anybody who wants to do anything with their eyes.
He disclosed that the last National Survey shows that cataract accounts for 36 per cent of blindness, while Glaucoma accounts for 50 per cent and not less than 01.78 per cent of Nigerians are blind.
Condemning all kinds of myths about eye diseases, he hinted that in LUTH, the cost of surgery for cataract amounts to 23,000 while Glaucoma surgery goes for N18, 000 because of the subsidy placed on them by the hospital management.