Ibrahim Oyewale in Lokoja
As part of efforts to sensitise the public about healthy eyes in Kogi State, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Zakari Usman, has advocated for regular eye screening to prevent the irreversible blindness caused by glaucoma.
Usman gave the advice in at chat with journalists in Lokoja as part of the ministry’s activities to commemorate the World Glaucoma Week (WGW), with the theme: ‘The World Is Bright, Save Your Sight’.
The activities for the glaucoma week was organised by the state Ministry of Health through the state Eye Care Steering Committee in collaboration with Sight Savers International and other stakeholders.
According to Usman, “The week is a unique initiative that puts a spotlight on glaucoma as the leading cause of preventable irreversible blindness worldwide.
”The week is designed to spread awareness and understanding about the importance of early detection of glaucoma.
”It is also an opportunity for me to inform the public about the good work that the government of Governor Alhaji Yahaya Bello is doing to prevent the devastating effect of glaucoma on Kogi citizens.”
The commissioner defined glaucoma as a disease that causes irreversible blindness as a result of increase in the tension in the eye (intraocular pressure).
He said: ”This causes an irreversible damage to the eye and eventually leads to blindness. Glaucoma can be seen in any age group but is particularly more in people above the age of 40 years.
”The Nigerian blindness survey revealed that the prevalence of blindness is 4.2 per cent in people above the age of 40 years, and of this, 16 per cent of them is attributable to glaucoma.
”One in every 200 people aged 40 and above has glaucoma, and as the world ages, the population with glaucoma increases.
”This number is estimated to sky rocket in the coming years as over 100 million will be affected by glaucoma worldwide by 2040.
”We are advised to avoid self-medication whenever we have eye problems, rather present to eye doctors and have the eye properly checked.”
The commissioner noted that there was no cure for glaucoma, but blindness from glaucoma could be preventable if it was caught early and treated appropriately.
He disclosed that about 270 people in Kogi State were screened for glaucoma in 2022 at the Federal Medical Centre Lokoja, alone, stressing that the state steering committee on glaucoma remained committed to promoting healthy eyes and good vision, achieving access to quality eye, eliminate avoidable blindness and vision loss.