International Glaucoma Week has commenced in Enugu, South-East Nigeria. International Glaucoma Week was designated to create awareness on Glaucoma a disease that is described as “Sneak thief of sight.”
The World Health Organization, WHO, says Glaucoma either primary or secondary is the leading cause of preventable blindness around the world with four point five million people suffering from the disease.
It explains that glaucoma which gradually damages the optic nerve of the eye without warning has no cure and can affect people from thirty years and above including children whom Glaucoma has been manifesting in their family history.
As the week long activity commences, medical experts say regular eye check is one of the major steps to prevent Glaucoma.
An eye specialist and consultant Ophthalmologist, Enugu State Teaching Hospital, Parklane, Dr.NkiruAkaraiwe expressed optimism that International Glaucoma Week would enable Nigerians to take seriously the act of regularly examining their eyes.
“Glaucoma is usually a group of Eye diseases that is characterized and causes damage to the nerve of a vision which is called the optic and this damage is a slowly progressive damage and usually there is a characteristics way it causes the damage and it gives a characteristics visual field defect, the things that can pre-dispose someone to having it is advance in age and raised in tra-occular pressure, if the pressure in eyes is raised is more likely the person will have Glaucoma,”
She noted that a survey conducted across the country showed that seven point seven percent of people in the South-East were victims of glaucoma while five percent was recorded in other parts of the country.
Dr.Akaraiwe said that study was ongoing to find out why the disease was prevalent in the South-East.
“Like Africans they have Glaucoma like 4 to 7 times more than the Caucasian and then when you come to Nigeria for instance, the Igbos have Glaucoma much more than others. We are doing some Genetic study to know if may be Gene expression is different from that of other people in the country but for instance is Igbo man has a 2 ½ times more risk of having Glaucoma than an Hausa man, so it’s really serious and we are not just at risk of having Glaucoma but also at risk of having Glaucoma blindness.”
Meanwhile, two victims of glaucoma, on the condition of anonymity, who shared their experience with Radio Nigeria, said it all started as a joke as it did not give them any serious sign.
“Six months when I have the experience my son was just sweeping then I hear something touch my eyes then I told him that you swept something into my eyes and he said mummy I did not sweep anything then I start feeling like something inside my eyes, my eyes was closing, closing, closing when I reach the hospital they said I have Glaucoma.
“Just around two years now, I have been experiencing this problem, sometimes I feel stress am not feeling comfortable, sometimes it seems like the hairs in my eyes just enter inside my eye, just scratching me since then I have been to the hospital.”
It is the view of Ophthalmologists in Nigeria that early detection is key to slowing progression of glaucoma.