As the world mark glaucoma week, Me Cure Healthcare Limited is calling on Nigerians to know their glaucoma status to avoid future blindness. World glaucoma week commenced from 11th to 18th, March, 2018.
Chief Operating Officer/Consultant Ophthalmologist, Me Cure Eye Center, Dr. Adegboyega Alabi, while speaking with journalists in Lagos state, said there are 45 million people worldwide who have glaucoma and the prevalence rate of the disease is high in Nigeria.
Dr. Alabi said glaucoma which is often referred to as a silent thief of the sight, is a disease that affects the optic nerve, which connects the eyes to the brain.
The Ophthalmologist said one particular peculiarity of this nerve is that they are stable structures or permanent structures that cannot be replaced and that is where the problem is with glaucoma.
“That is why glaucoma is not reversible because once the nerve is damaged, it is damaged permanently. But the good thing again is that this particular optic nerve is not a single structure. There are about 1.2 million nerve fibers that formed the optic nerve.
“Luckily, with regards to glaucoma, the whole optic nerve cannot be damaged at once. The disease damages them one by one and once the whole nerve is completely damaged, that patient is blind for life. It is not reversible, hence the need for early screening, to detect it on time, so that it can be treated. And if picked at an early stage, we can stop the disease progression,” he added.
Speaking on the risk factors of glaucoma, Dr. Alabi said there are almost 50 different types of glaucoma but the most common in Nigeria is the primary open angle glaucoma and the risk factors for this type of glaucoma is divided into the modifiable and the non modifiable risk factors.
For the non modifiable risk factors, the ophthalmologist said if an individual is over age 40 and has a family history of the disease, he should get a complete eye exam, adding that short sighted people and people from African decent have higher risk of developing primary open angle glaucoma than people from other races.
“The modifiable risk factor is the pressure of the eye, if the pressure is high, it can lead to glaucoma and it is also a risk factor for progression of the disease. So whenever we see patients, we try to reduce the pressure and then stop the progression of the disease,” he added.
The Ophthalmologist said as part of Me Cure social corporate responsibility, the company do visit communities from time to time and organize free screening for people, thereby urging Nigerians to make use of the opportunity and get their eyes examined.
Dr. Alabi said as the world mark glaucoma week, Me Cure is also organizing free eye screening. He however called on Nigerians to come to their office at Oshodi and get their eyes evaluated.
“We need community enlightenment on the disease. We also need government to fund healthcare more and declare glaucoma as public health importance because almost 80 per cent of patients I see everyday have glaucoma and once one has the disease, the treatment is continuous because there is no cure, but if detected early, we can keep it at that stage for the next 30 years,” he added.