The Nigerian Optometric Association (NOA) has called on government at all levels to provide free and mandatory glaucoma screening to reduce the burden of the disease on citizens.
Dr Ngozi Nwanekezie, the Chairperson of NOA, FCT Chapter, made this appeal on Thursday in Abuja during an “awareness walk’’ to commemorate the World Glaucoma Week (WGW).
The WGW is an annual event held from March 11 to 17. This year’s WGW is tagged: “GREEN – Go get your eyes tested for Glaucoma: Save your Sight’’.
Dr. Ngozi, who described glaucoma as a group or a family of diseases that damages the optic nerves as well as one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide, alarmed that it presently has no cure.
“Glaucoma is a progressive disease that most frequently occurs in individuals from age 40 with the risk of the diseases increasing with age,’’ she said.
She identified eye health as a right of every citizen while she decried the rapid rise of the disease in the country which she attributed to ignorance on the part of the populace about its harmful effect and high cost of medication.
Dr. Ngozi, therefore called on government at all levels to subsidize the treatment to reduce the burden from patients diagnosed of such diseases. Government was also urged to set up free and mandatory eye screening in government hospitals especially for those from age 40 and above. This step will help to ensure that victims of the glaucoma disease are diagnosed early to boycott its extreme danger blindness, she said.
In order to buttress her point of the need for government to tackle this disease, she explained:
“Most eye ailments get worst from age 40 and above, and government is duty bound to ensure every single citizen have their eyes check whether they have money or not.
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“This is because when they go blind they become a total burden to the entire society, though eye treatment is included in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) but not in totality.
“The cost of drug for glaucoma is high and since it is a lifelong treatment, government should subsidize the drugs so that people with such diseases can afford it since they will buy it for the rest of their lives.’’
Dr. Ngozi, however, urged members of the public to themselves available for free glaucoma screening opportunity in all private hospitals in Abuja between Thursday and Saturday to ascertain their actual eye health status.
She noted that the World Glaucoma Week celebration was necessary to sensitize the public on the dangers of the disease, the need for regular eye checks to ensure early detection and treatment.