By Rebecca Ejifoma

Determined to save more Nigerians from losing their sights in line with World Glaucoma Day, the Lagos University Teaching Hospital in partnership with Pfizer gave free eye screeneing to over 300 Nigerians on World Glaucoma day, as 30 glaucoma suspects were discovered.

The two-day screening to mark World Glaucoma week from March 8 to 12, held at the Guinness Eye Centre, LUTH, where over 30 glaucoma suspects were diagnosed and given appointments for treatment. According to the Post Fellowship Senior Registrar, GEC, Dr. Idowu Oluwatobi glaucoma is known as an eye condition that affects the optic nerve in which the pressure can be high, normal or low.

And it is the cause of irreversible blindness. He further emphasised that the optic nerve – which helps one see – is like an electric wire that connects the eye to the brain. And once this nerve is damaged it cannot be repaired. “Alhough some people say it is a disease of high pressure, we have seen people with glaucoma who have normal blood pressure. So, high pressure is not synonymous with glaucoma.”

Sadly, Oluwatobi decried that the number of glaucoma patients is, unfortunately, rising. “As every year goes by, we see a number of people with this disease. But the alarming thing about it is that we always find most of them at the very advanced or late stages that we might not be able to prevent blindness in them again.” But now, he told disclosed to THISDAY Guinness Eye Centre is better equipped to screen people. So, that can extrapolate to the increased number of the disease that exists now in our midst.

Although Ophthalmologists alongside research have concluded that there is no known cause of the disease for now, the eye specialist says there are a lot of risk factors. “We have a lot of things that can predispose an individual.” He listed: “All blacks are prone to it; persons from age 40 and above; people who have someone in their family that has glaucoma, has got 50 per cent chance of developing the disease, too. Meanwhile, the Chief Nurse, Guinness Eye Centre, Enwuwa Juliana – while ensuring everyone is attended to – told THISDAY they were fulfilled over the large turn-up of Lagosians this year at screening exercise. “This year, the turn-up is very impressive. As an ophthalmic-trained Nurse with over 10 years experience in GECentre, we decided to create awareness today. And luckilly, we found pver 30 suspects. We have given them appointments to come back for further treatment.” Therefore, in creating awareness to Nigerians to care more for their eyes, LUTH urges everyone to visit his ophthalmologist at least twice every year. “Our target this year is to pick these set of people out and help them prevent blindness because glaucoma is a silent blinder.”