By Martins Ifijeh
While aging has been fingered as a prominent cause of cataract, eye specialists from India carrying out free cataract surgeries for 14,000 less privileged Nigerians have revealed that alcohol and malnutrition could play a major role in the development of the disease.
The Ophthalmologists said the higher the intake of alcohol, the more the risk of cataract, adding that malnutrition deprives people of the necessary nutrients needed to protect vision, hence the need for the country to tackle these causal factors, as well as cataract itself.
According to the Hon Secretary, Rotary Eye Institute, India, Yogesh Naik, cataract was often noticed in persons older than 50 years, but that in Nigeria and some developing countries, it was now found in younger persons, which he said could be due to underlying factors including malnutrition, aging, alcohol intake, familial, among others.
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 present late. Some go about it for years,” he said.
Naik said under the annual ‘Mission for Vision’s free eye screening & operative Camp, supported by Rotary Club Palmgroove, Indo Eye Care Foundation, Rotary Club Island, Indian Businessmen in Nigeria, among others, a total of 25,000 Nigerians have been treated free of charge, out of which 17,000 have been operated for cataract, which cost about N300,000 per person. “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,” he said.
Lending his voice, a member of the team, Tarun Sanghvi disclosed that the surgery started 4th of September and will end 24 September, adding that no fewer than 100 free surgeries were carried out daily.
A past president of Rotary, N.G. Patel who noted that most of the Indian Business people have lived in Nigeria for over 50 years, said the annual programme was part of their contributions 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.”