If nothing is done to educate Nigerians about cataract, by 2020, more than 600,000 people will require surgery as a result of the eye defect.
Chief Medical Director (CMD), National Eye Centre, Kaduna, Dr. Godwin O. Adejor gave the warning in Kaduna on the occasion of the World Sight Day celebration (WSD) which was organised by the centre.
According to him, 400,000 Nigerians underwent cataract operation about seven years ago, but the number is expected to continue growing.
The Centre, according Adejor is doing its bit in reducing cataract in the country, with free cataract surgery for 512 patients during “Goodluck Operation Restore Sight”.
The presidential initiative to improve the number of cataract surgeries in the country has helped, but more needs to be done, opined Adejor.
“I want to advocate for the provision of comprehensive eye care services and integrate them into existing health systems as well as identify and eliminate social and economic obstacles especially for the poor and the marginalised,” said Adejor.
“In Nigeria, according to the results of the National Blindness Survey conducted from 2005-2007, the prevalence of blindness in people who were aged 40 years and older was 42% and 0.78% in all ages. According to this study, 84% of blindness in Nigeria was due to avoidable causes of which cataract constitutes 43%.
“A brief statistical data is a necessary panacea to understanding of burden of blindness / visual impairment,” Adejor added.
According to the recent available data, approximately 285 million people worldwide live with low vision and blindness. Of these, 39 million, 37 – 40 people are blind and 246 million have moderate – severe impairment. 90% of the blind people live in low – income countries. It is also known that 80% of visual impairment is avoidable.
“Although the number of people blind from infectious causes has greatly reduced in the past 20 years among the high – income countries, these causes are still very significant in the low – income countries of the world. It is estimated that 19 million children worldwide, are visually impaired”