From George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
Professor Agwu Amadi of the Public Health Department, Federal University of Technology( FUTO) Owerri, has raised the alarm that blindness is on the rise in Nigeria.
The don who raised the alarm while delivering the lead lecture at the 13 Annual General Meeting of the Nigerian Postgraduate College of Optometrists, in Owerri, said the result of the National Blindness and Visual Impairment Survey, conducted from 2005 to 2017 by the International Centre for Eye Health showed an increase in prevalence of blindness across the country.
“The report showed that 1.13 million individuals, aged 40 years, were blind in Nigeria. A further 2.7 million adults, aged 40 years, were estimated to have moderate visual impairment and an additional 400,000 adults were severely visually impaired.
“The prevalence of blindness varied across the different ecological zones, being highest in the Sahel, 6.6 per cent, and lowest in the delta, 3.3 per cent. Most of the blindness can be prevented, using public health protocols and interventions, through vision care and protection.”
Amadi said to achieve significant vision care and reduction of blindness in Nigeria, there is urgent need for a national policy on public health optometry. He called on both federal and state governments to urgently integrate optometrists into the primary health care system to arrest the situation.