The Nigeria Optometrists Association in Enugu State has urged its members in public and private hospitals to offer free eye tests and referrals to willing individuals in its efforts at eradicating glaucoma.
Chairman of the association in the state, Dr Emmanuel Asogwa, made the call in Enugu on Friday while speaking at an awareness campaign tagged `Dangers of Glaucoma and Effect on individuals’ as part of the event to mark the 2019 World Glaucoma Week(WGW).
Asogwa defined glaucoma as the deterioration of the optic nerve often caused by high pressure within the eye known as Intraocular Pressure (IOP).
“Glaucoma is sometimes known as the ‘Silent thief of Sight’ because it gives no symptom until the central vision eventually becomes affected and it accounts for the third largest cause of blindness in the world.
“It is estimated that 4.5 million persons globally are blind due to glaucoma and the number is expected to rise to 11.2 million by 2020.
“Due to the silent progression of the disease, up to 50 per cent of affected persons in developed countries are unaware of having glaucoma and up to 90 per cent in underdeveloped countries like Africa.
“Early detection and diagnosis of glaucoma will prevent total blindness which is the end result of the disease if not attended to on time,’’ he said.
The chairman pointed out that the risk of glaucoma increased with age especially those above age 40.
Asogwa said that there was hope for those diagnosed of glaucoma unlike before because recent research had paved way to limit visual impairment and progression towards irreversible blindness.
“Few of the discoveries for the treatment of glaucoma are trabeculectomy; a viable alternative for poor countries and Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery (MIGS) for more advanced countries.
Asogwa advised people to imbibe the culture of regular eye tests at least once a year to help prevent eye diseases as glaucoma.
“It should be stressed that glaucoma is not specific to a particular tribe or continent because even those with normal eye levels can develop glaucoma,” he said.
The optometrist decried the non-availability of government eye clinics and optometry centers in rural areas of the state and urged the state government to make the business of eye care a priority in the state.
World Glaucoma Week is a joint initiative of the World Glaucoma Association and the World Glaucoma Patient Association that has continually run a week long awareness campaign for over ten years.
The week held from March 10 to March 16 across the globe to create awareness on dangers of glaucoma. (NAN)