World Sight Day is commemorated every year, October 11. It is a global event that focuses on bringing attention on blindness and vision impairment and also aimed at drawing the attention of world leaders, policy makers and medical practitioners across the globe to do more in their respective spheres to ensure that the people are given sound policies, laws and professional medical administration to promote healthy sight.
The theme for the 2019 World Sight Day is “Vision First.” It is geared towards creating the much needed awareness for people to be conscious of what they do to avoid sight defect either in the short run or long run.
In this interview with the Chief Optometrist, Dr Ngabu Pascal, of Galily Eye Foundation & Clinic Ltd, he spoke with Daily Sun on the need to take precautionary measures for health eyes and for people to have eye examination at least once a year.
What is the implication of the theme of this year World Sight Day
The implications of the theme; “Vision First,” implies that top priority should be given to our eyes. Hence the eyes are the windows of the body. Some patients with eye defects would tell us that no other part of the body is as important as the eyes, though all parts are very important but the eyes is very unique, cases are better managed when we detect eye deformation on time, there are cases we wished the patients came earlier because of how bad the situation has gone. So we encourage all and sundry to see their vision first as the theme spells it and give it a proper medical attention. We advise that people go for eye examination at least once a year.
How do we protect and promote a healthy sight
Our general lifestyle is paramount. A careful and healthy lifestyle is not just good for the eyes but for the entire body. Our bodies are built on what we eat. Fruits and vegetables like carrots are very good. Regular exercise is also very good for healthy eye.
What are the various eyes defects
We have pathological eye defects like glaucoma and cataract then the refractive challenges. The refractive cases are like short sightedness, long sightedness etc., which can be treated by the use of lenses, contact lenses or the spectacle lenses. While pathological cases are corrected surgically or with drugs.
Some of the these eyes challenges are age related, which are the commonest we see, especially people from 40 years above complain of inability to read tiny prints, we call it Press Byopia but with the recommended lenses the person can read tiny prints. We also have other systemic related challenges like the; diabetic retinopathy, hypertensive retinopathy, which are ocular manifestation of systemic diseases caused by the presence of diabetes and hypertension in the person body. So, most cases are systemic.
Note that some eyes defects are hereditary, others are traumatic, which is the (use of force/hit on the eyes), some of these affects the black eyes while others affect the white eye.
Which is more dangerous when affected, the black or white eyes?
Both shouldn’t be affected by anything, but then the black eye (cornea), when affected is more precarious than the white eyes (sclera).
Most of our parents in the villages suffer different eyes challenges, could it be because some of them still use firewood to cook or… Cuts in
Of course, anything that causes discomfort to the eyes is inimical to the eyes even those in the cities, what about the air pollution like the emissions of carbons in the atmosphere, the dust and the carbon monoxide people inhale immediately they turn off their stoves most times with water, which has direct effect on the eyes? The truth is that, our environment is unsafe for our general health. Again, people must not resort to self help when they discover any eye problem, they should seek qualified optometrists.
Some children are born with eyes impairment?
Some of such cases are not necessarily by the acts of the pregnant women, some are hereditary, like in a case where a child of seven-year-old suffering short sightedness, it could be from the father’s gene or mother’s gene, but if there is no trace of such from the parents, we are left with no option than to administer the necessary therapy after proper examination. Howbeit, pregnant and nursing mothers must eat healthy foods, and be conscious of drugs they take while pregnant or nursing baby (ies), most of what people suffer starts from childhood.
Are there more optometrists coming into the profession?
Yes we have more coming in compared with 5 years ago. We have student’s doctors working with us.
On the side of government, have they really done well, what should be done?
Frankly speaking, the practice has been more of private- based, without fear of contradiction; the government is not living to its responsibility and expectations. There are cases where governments, hospitals shamelessly refer patients to private hospitals for eye examination, so if the patients are sent from public health institutions to private hospitals, then we are in serious problem. Appallingly, some of the cases they referred to us are basic/ primary test they ought to do, it’s not as if the cases are knotty, even if they are, they are supposed to have both the man power and equipments to diagnose any illness because they (government) control the state resources. It’s an unfortunate experience.
As we speak, I have colleagues who have been applying for jobs as optometrists in the government hospitals over the years, yet they have not been employed. So bad that these hospitals are known for lacking manpower, at most, you see one optometrist in the public hospital, but then you see 100-150 eye patients in queue to be attended by one optometrist. Even when they the government employ them, they don’t pay. My set alone at the university, I don’t know how many of us are still in Nigeria, they are all in other countries like, Saudi Arabia, Dubai etc, and our men are doing great over there.
You that establishing and running an eye clinic here in Nigeria is not a soft nut to crack. We need to be encouraged from the academic point to the real practice, because anyone who lost his sight has lost a major part of his life. The Federal Government should not be left out in this global campaign to promote healthy eyes. Again, the Federal Ministry of Health should be up and doing, because health is wealth, and a healthy mind is a productive life.