Habibat Daromosu, an ophthalmologist with the National Hospital, Abuja, says glaucoma is the second highest cause of blindness globally after cataract, hence the need to create more awareness.
Ms. Daromosu said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja as the world commemorates 2018 World Glaucoma Week.
The 2018 World Glaucoma Week, which commenced from March 11 to 17, is themed “GREEN- Go get your eyes tested for Glaucoma, Save your Sight’’.
She defined glaucoma as group of eye pressure related diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve head with reduction in vision and eventually blindness.
She stressed that the need for eye screening and awareness programmes of the diseases cannot be overemphasised as it is the second highest cause of blindness globally after cataract which is irreversible.
“Glaucoma is a ravaging eye disease, with no symptoms or cure but (which) causes progressive damage to the vision until it gets to an irreversible blindness if left untreated.
“That is why it is essential that experts are able to diagnose the diseases as early as possible to delay progression and ensure a large number of people are identified and screened to avoid blindness.
“The earlier the diagnosis, the less damage done and the more vision there is to save.
“However, a number of patients come to the hospital when they have lost their vision completely.
“If diagnosed early and treated, it can be managed for a lifetime with medications, surgery and laser treatment, among others,’’ she said.
Ms. Daromosu said those at risk of glaucoma include children, adults, persons above 40 years, families with history of glaucoma, persons of African heritage, while diabetes and hypertension are associated risk factors.
According to her,“statistics show that about 70 million people suffer from glaucoma worldwide with 10 million blind.
“In Nigeria about 2 million persons over 40 years suffer from glaucoma with 360,000 being blind.
“While up to 90 per cent of those with glaucoma in Nigeria do not know they have the diseases hence the need to create more awareness’’.
She advised on eye screening from 40 years annually, while those with family history of glaucoma, an unknown cause of blindness in the family, should screen earlier and children from the ages of seven.
The expert added that glaucoma screening and treatment should be carried out by the ophthalmologists who are the right professionals, stating that there are cadres of eye care health givers.
“We have the opticians who are technicians responsible for the technical work of the glasses and frames; optometrists carries out refraction, specialised eye investigations and are able to diagnose common eye ailments.
“While the ophthalmologists are the medical doctors with six years additional training in the treatment of medical and surgical eye ailment,’’ she added.