October 10, 2020

World Sight Day: Eye-Q hospital raises alarm over rate of glaucoma in Nigeria

50 million Nigerians at risk of River blindness

By Juliet Umeh

As the world marks 2020 World Sight Day, WSD, Friday, the Skipper Eye-Q Super Specialty Eye Hospital has raised the alarm over the rate of Nigerians coming down with glaucoma.

The hospital urged Nigerians to have their eyes regularly checked, especially for glaucoma, stating that it is a scourge in the country.

The Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. Temitope Tijani, while speaking to Good Health, said glaucoma is a disease that affects the optic nerve which leads to irreversible blindness at an advanced stage.

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Tijani, a cataract surgeon, who also treats glaucoma, said: “Glaucoma is giving a lot of us concern because there’s no single clinic that is not making new diagnoses every day.

“I can say five to 10 suspected cases are made every day and one or two cases are confirmed. That is a very high number because this is one clinic among so many clinics, coupled with the fact that so many people are not coming to check.

“But we are picking so much from the few that are coming to check,” Tijani explained on the occasion of WSD, with the theme ‘Hope in Sight’.

She advised that the only way to tackle the scourge is to diagnose it early.

“We can’t cure it. But it can be controlled with drugs and surgeries in such a way that an individual is able to keep functional vision all through one’s lifetime.

“So, people who have been diagnosed should tell every member of their family to go to the eye doctor and have a check up.

“Even when the eye doctor certified you okay, you still have to be checking it annually. Once you have a family history, you are more at risk of developing it.

“So, the best time to start treating glaucoma is when one still has good vision because that vision that you have is what we will help you keep,” Tijani advised.

In the same vein, a Consultant Vitreo Retina Services in the same hospital, Dr. Zennat Shah, said glaucoma has a genetic disposition to the African race.

She said: “So, it should be diagnosed at a very early stage because it is a silent killer. People don’t have pain but slowly, the vision will decrease and the vision will go away.”

She noted that about 36 million people across the globe are already blind and four out of five cases of blindness are avoidable.