Optometrists advocate urgent action to eradicate avoidable blindness
• Says 2.2 Billion People Have Visual Impairment Globally
The Nigerian Optometric Association (NOA) has called for urgent action to eradicate avoidable blindness in the country.
The group also predicted that over 48 percent of the world population would be myopic by 2050
It appealed to the government to ensure that eye care services were effectively covered at all Primary Health Centres (PHCs) across the country.
Its President, Obinna Awiaka, who made the call in his address to mark this year’s World Sight Day in Abuja, said: “It is of global concern that, at least, 2.2 billion people have visual impairment or blindness, of whom at least, in one billion of these cases could have been prevented.
Awiaka noted that of the one billion people, 88.4 million have moderate or severe distance vision impairment or blindness due to uncorrected refractive error, and 94 million from cataracts with glaucoma, which causes irreversible blindness accounting for 7.7 million.
He noted that the leading cause of visual impairment and blindness were uncorrected refractive error and cataracts; both conditions were easily preventable.
Awiaka observed that the prevalence of distance vision impairment in Nigeria and other low and middle-income regions was estimated to be four times higher than in high-income regions with an uncorrected near vision from presbyopia, a major concern in recent times.
He noted that though the majority of those with visual impairment were over 50; children were not left out as one out of every three children in Nigeria has an uncorrected visual impairment, which could affect school work, learning, recreation, self-esteem and may encourage truancy, delinquency and dropouts, “ In Nigeria, the National Blindness and Visual Impairment Survey has shown that uncorrected refractive errors are a major cause of visual impairment, with about 77.9 per cent of mild visual impairment being caused by it.”
“The theme for this year’s event is “Love Your Eyes”, which is also an extension and consolidation of the milestones attained the previous year. It is hoped that this year will build on the success of last year’s campaign, which saw over 3.5 million pledges to prioritise eye health”.
“This year’s World Sight Day was unique judging from the fact that this is the first time all eye care professionals were in collaboration through the National Eye Health Committee.
“All stakeholders in the eye care sector, including NOA, Ophthalmological Society of Nigeria (OSN), Nigerian Ophthalmic Nurses Association (NONA) and Association of Nigerian Dispensing Opticians (ANDO) were working as a team across all states of the federation and the FCT “, he added.