How over 1bn people ‘ll escape visual impairment globally – Expert

A consultant opthalmologist has urged Nigerians to check their eyes annually to avoid preventable visual impairment, noting that 80% of 1.3 billion people suffering from visual impairment globally could have been avoided. 

A consultant opthalmologist with Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, Prof. Emmanuel Abah, said’1.04 billion people living with visual impairment across the world could have been prevented if they have carried out regular eye checks every year. 

Addressing the Annual Public Lecture as part of 2019 World Sight Day on Thursday organised by the National Eye Center, Kaduna with the theme; ‘Vision First’, Prof. Emmanuel said there was need to create awareness to enable people understand the need for them to engage in periodic eye check.

“Globally, 1.3 billion people live with one form of visual impairment or the other, 188.5 million suffers mild visual impairment but 80% of visual impairment globally is considered to be avoidable. Majority of those who suffer visual impairment are over 50-years of age, 89% of them live in lower and middle earning countries. 

“Leading causes of preventable visual impairment are uncorrected refractive errors which accounts for 42% (124million people) among adults and children it can be easily identified and corrected. Cataract accounts for 51% avoidable blindness, glaucoma, which account for 8% avoidable blindness, causes painless visual loss. It is hardly noticed until when it is in advanced stage and becomes irreversible.  

“Age related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, trachoma, onchocerciasis and vitamin A deficiency are the other causes of preventable visual impairment. It is advisable to check our eyes once a year for those without eye disease and for those suffering from eye disease, they should follow their physician’s prescription,” the opthalmologist said. 

The Chief Medical Director, National Eye Center, Dr Mahmud Alhassan, who was represented by Dr Amina Hassan Wali, said that the lecture aimed at enlightening people about the need for regular eye check up. “Not everyone has had eye check up in the last one year. This day was set aside for enlightenment for people to always check their eyes, know what challenges and start attacking it.” 

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