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Experts worried over Nigeria’s inability to eliminate blindness

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Ophthalmologists have expressed worry over Nigeria’s inability to achieve the ‘Vision 2020’ initiative, aimed at eliminating the burden of visual impairment and avoidable blindness among the people by the end of the year.

According to them, projections show that global demand for eye care is set to surge in the coming years, due to population growth, aging and changes in lifestyle, adding that the burden weighs more heavily on low – and middle-income countries, specifically rural communities and older people. An Associate Ophthalmologist, Nonye Ekwu, identified a good diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep as important factors for improved eyesight.

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Delivering the 21st annual faculty lecture of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria, Faculty of Ophthalmology in Lagos, Professor of Public Health Ophthalmology, Folasade Akinsola, at the weekend, stressed that while Nigeria is on track with the vision 2020 initiative, the country is still far from achieving it, as there are lots of work to do, ranging from educating the public, government involvement, and training of specialists to address the situation.

She said governments at all levels should study the situation to ensure eye healthcare would be improved in the country through adopting Universal Health Coverage (UHC), which is an important part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Ekwu, while speaking during the launch of Winx International, a vision care and eye aesthetics firm in Lagos, said eye care should be an essential health service in Nigeria, which should be part of the Primary Health Care.
She advised the public to visit an ophthalmologist at least once a year, with emphasis on the role of the eye to one’s health.

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The expert disclosed that cataract, refractive errors/low vision, glaucoma, and vitamin A deficiency among others, were responsible for 75 per cent of all blindness globally.

Ekwu, who explained that Winx, among other things, is a dry eye clinic, said dry eye is a syndrome prevalent in sub saharan Africa caused by dusty wind in the region.

“Now is the time to make eye and vision care a staple mode of healthcare in Nigeria because the eyes are the windows to one’s health. We envision a place where quality eye care is obtainable and accessible to every individual in the Nigerian community. We want to beautify the vision of people. In line with this, we have embarked on a couple of community outreach and giveaways,” she added.

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