The Chairman, Nigeria Medical Association Committee (NMA) on Eye Health, Dr. Buyo Kufo has linked Glaucoma to be a major cause of blindness in Nigeria.
Kufo said this while speaking at the 2019 Glaucoma Week, adding that about 16.7 percent blindness in Nigeria have been traced to be caused by glaucoma.
According to NMA, people who have Glaucoma often do not know until it is advanced leaving their vision seriously affected as it does not present any symptoms most times, until the late stages of the disease.
“Glaucoma consists of a group of diseases with common characteristics which mainly affect the optic nerve,” he said.
“The optic nerve is the nerve which connects the eye to the area of the brain responsible for the sensation of sight, and glaucoma if untreated results in loss of optic nerve function, and irreversible blindness.
“Most often, when we talk about glaucoma, we are referring to its most common form, primary open angle glaucoma, which is also sometimes called chronic open angle glaucoma.
“It is referred to as open angle because in this condition, the angle between the transparent cornea in front of the eye and the iris, which is usually seen as dark brown inside the eye (in black people as well as in the majority of people of other races), remains open.”
However, Kufo advised that Glaucoma can be managed on a national level by implementing screening programs designed to detect the disease early and institute treatment, adding that when treatment is begun early, useful vision can usually be maintained and blindness is often prevented.
“It is advisable that everyone from the age of 40 years (younger if there is a family history) should have their eyes checked by an ophthalmologist once a year. In this way, people with the disease can be detected, and treatment, which will often prevent blindness, can be instituted.
“Treatment may include surgery, which has been found to be more effective in the treatment of glaucoma than medical management alone.”