By Felicia Imohimi
Abuja, – Dr Esewuese Bitto, Head of Ophthalmology Department, Garki Specialist Hospital, says adults from age 40 and above are at high risk of glaucoma.
Bitto said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at a free eye screening on Thursday in Abuja in commemoration of the World Glaucoma Week holding from March 10 to 16.
The theme for this year is “Focus on Glaucoma”.
“Glaucoma affects people of all ages especially those above 40 years,” she said.
The programme was jointly organised by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), Nigerian Optometric Association (NOA), Ophthalmological Society of Nigeria (NOA), Biogenerics Nigeria Ltd and Drugfield Pharmaceutical.
Bitto, who described glaucoma as a chronic progressive eye disease that causes irreversible blindness, identified age as a risk factor that could predispose an individual to the disease.
He identified other risk factors as positive family history of glaucoma, adding that an individual who have a first degree relative of glaucoma like father, mother, brother or sister was at risk.
She further noted that people of black race have over three to five per cent increase rate risk compared to their white counterparts.
“People of black race are set to have well over three to five increase risk compare to their white counterpart.
“Other risk factors are thickness of the cornea; the thinner the cornea the higher the risk for glaucoma, trauma or injury to the eye, diabetes, hypertension, all of these can also put one at risk of glaucoma,” she noted.
Bitto however advised Nigerians on frequent eye check to reduce the prevalence of the disease.
She advised Nigerians to go for regular eye screening at least once a year, adding that early detection is key to prevent visual loss.
The consultant however emphasised that the disease has no symptoms and cure, saying patients can only notice its symptoms when it has gotten to advance stage where nothing could be done to remedy the situation.
“We encourage people to go for frequent eye check because glaucoma does not have symptoms, is not a disease that will make you have frequent eye check. It does not have symptoms.
“It is not a disease that will make you come into the clinic with severe eye pain except is the one that comes from close or small narrow angles but the typical open angle glaucoma will not cause pain and redness.
“It can exist in human beings eye for as long as it hasn’t cause blindness until the person detect it, and once it is detected late there is problem because not much can be done because it causes irreversible blindness,” she warned.
The consultant noted that world glaucoma week was initiated by the World Glaucoma Association (WGA) and the World Glaucoma Patient Association to raise awareness and bring people’s consciousness to the disease and its inherent danger.
Similarly, Dr Eme Okolo, Consultant Ophthalmologist and Coordinator, National Eye Health Programme, FMoH, identified glaucoma as the second leading cause of blindness in Nigeria of 16.7 per cent after cataract.
Okolo further described it as the leading cause of irreversible blindness.
According to her, five per cent of adults over 40 years in Nigeria have the disease, 94 per cent of which remain undiagnosed and one in five are already blind.
By Felicia Imohimi