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Expert Advocates Regular Eye Checks, Treatment to Prevent Glaucoma

From Joseph Amedu, Lokoja

The Kogi Commissioner for Health, Dr Zakari Usman, has advocated for regular eye screening to prevent the irreversible blindness caused by Glaucoma.

Usman gave the advice at a press briefing yesterday 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 Kogi Ministry of Health through the State’s Eye Care Steering Committe 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 His Excellency Alhaji Yahaya Bello, is doing to prevent the devastating effect of glaucoma on Kogi citizens ,” he said.

The commissioner defined Glaucoma as a disease that causes irreversible blindness as a result of increase in the tension in the eye (intraocular pressure).

”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 40yrs and above has glaucoma, and as the world ages, the population of people 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,” he said.

He noted that there was no cure for glaucoma, but blindness from glaucoma could be preventable if it was caught early and treated appropriately.

The doctor maintained that glaucoma remained the leading cause of preventable, irreversible blindness, but prompt diagnosis and treatment could prevent unnecessary loss of vision.

”Regular eye checks are the number rule for vision preservation in glaucoma; the earlier it is diagnosed the less the damage it can do.

”We enjoin people to regularly carry out eye check-up especially people above the age of 40yrs or those who have a family history of blindness.

”We are advised to avoid self medication whenever we have eye problems, but rather present to eye doctors and have the eye properly checked,” Usman said.

He disclosed that about 270 people in Kogi were screened for glaucoma in 2022 at the Federal Medical Centre Lokoja, alone.

The commissioner stressed that the state’s steering committee on glaucoma remained committed to promoting healthy eyes and good vision, achieving access to quality eye, eliminate avoidable blindness and vision loss.

He said Kogi Government is creating awareness and sensitisation on glaucoma as a public health concern, to improve eye care services delivery in the state and eye care to everyone.

”The State Ministry of Health in collaboration has continued to play a major role at improving eye health in the state thereby reducing the burden of avoidable blindness.

”Towards the celebration of this year’s WGW, activities planned are as follows: Glaucoma screening at various locations such as at the Federal Teaching Hospital Lokoja, and other places.

”Advocacy visits to stakeholders in the eye care, relevant ministeries, departments and agencies, development partners, religious organizations and community leaders,” Usman said.

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