Optometric Association demands free glaucoma screening in hospitals

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The Nigerian Optometric Association (NOA) has called all tiers of government to provide free and mandatory glaucoma screening to reduce the burden of the disease on citizens.

Dr Ngozi Nwanekeze, the Chairperson of NOA, FCT Chapter, made the appeal during an “awareness walk’’ to commemorate the World Glaucoma Week (WGW) in Abuja.

World Glaucoma Week is commemorated annually from March 11 to 17, and has as its 2018 theme as “GREEN – Go get your eyes tested for Glaucoma: Save your Sight’’.

Nwanekezie, who described glaucoma as a group or a family of diseases that damages the optic nerves as well as one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide, alerted that it has no cure.

She said “Glaucoma is a progressive disease that most frequently occurs in individuals from age 40 with the risk of the diseases increasing with age.’’

While saying that eye health is a right of every citizen, the chairperson urged government to ensure that Nigerians undergo a thorough eye examination to forestall the prevalence of the visual challenge and blindness in the country.

Nwanekezie who identified glaucoma treatment as a lifelong treatment, also called on government to subsidise the treatment to reduce the burden from patients diagnosed of such diseases.
The chairperson frowned at the burden of the disease in the country and attributed it to ignorance on the part of the populace about its harmful effect and high cost of medication.

“Government can do a lot by instituting free and mandatory glaucoma screening in government hospitals and as well ensuring free and thorough general eye examination for everybody from age 40 and above. Most eye ailments get worst from age 40 and above and government have a duty bound to ensure every single citizens have their eyes check whether they have money or not. This is because when they go blind they become a total burden to the entire society, though eye treatment is included in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) but not in totality. The cost of drug for glaucoma is high and since it is a lifelong treatment government should subsidise the drugs so that people with such diseases can afford it because they are going to buy it for the rest of their lives,’’ Nwanekezie said.

The chairperson noted that the sensitisation was necessitated because early detection was the only way one could safeguard the eyes against the associated blindness.

Nwanekezie, however, urged members of the public to avail themselves of free glaucoma screening opportunity in all private hospitals between now and Saturday to ascertain their actual eye health status.

She specifically identified “Just Vision Eye Clinic’’ at Next Cash and Carry Complex, Gwarimpa Express Way, and “Opticare Eye Clinic’’, Machina Plaza, Wuse 2, Abuja, as presently offering free glaucoma screening.

Bilkisu Pai