By Henry Uche
As Nigeria joined the globe to commemorate the 2022 World Sight Day & International White Cane & Safety Day, concerned citizens across board have urged Nigerians to give due care for their eyes as its importance for a healthy living remains paramount.
With the theme: “Love Your Eyes” the Director, Resource Center for the Blind, Mrs. Temitayo Ayinla-Omotola, implored the government across board to enforce every existing laws that affect the visually impaired persons and create enabling environment for them have access to equal opportunities in all facets.
Ayinla-Omotola called the “Haves” to show empathy and compassion to these fellows by supporting them financially, materially and otherwise. “Whenever you see a blind person, humanity beckons on you and I to help them in any way we can. Most of them didn’t come to the world blind, so we owe them duty of care for the sake of divinity,” she implored.
Similarly, Dr. Tolani Salako, department of Ophthalmology, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) also called on Nigerians to visit an Ophthalmologist at least once a year to avoid ‘had I know’.
According to her, when one’s eyes are endangered, all other parts of the body are affected, hence the need to check the eyes regularly. She warned Nigerians to be very careful of some traditional but barbaric practices which set the eyes on edge.
“Even if you were told your eyes are in good condition, you need to see the Ophthalmologist regularly. And we must have the right attitude towards our eyes. The case of Cataract is mild compared to Glaucoma. In some situations we are asked to go for Glasses test is which is very important. A pair of recommended glass can fix certain eye challenges, because it helps to boost your vision.
Salako stressed that another important thing to note was the uncorrected refractive error which is common amongst students and causes suboptimal performance. She revealed that harmful application of substance in the eyes could lead to more severe harm.
“When people have pink eye or Apollo, or even mild pains maybe out of sun heat or dust, ignorantly they apply all manner of harmful substances to their eyes, which ordinarily could be fixed with antibiotics, but because of poor awareness, they indulge in some precarious practice. Imagine using urine to wash your face. Such unfounded practices could lead to complications and consequently in blindness,”
She encouraged Nigerians to always eat healthy food, drink more water, fruits and vegetables. She alerted the publics on the danger of staying glued to screens like phones, television, laptops and other gadgets. “We should practice 20:20:20, Which means, after staying on a screen for 20 minutes, we should look away from the screen for at least 20 seconds and blink for at least 20 seconds.
She also encouraged parents to let their children have time to play outside (open space) saying that the idea of caging children inside the house day in day out, affects the sight of children. “The higher one goes in age, the chances of getting cataract, but it can be corrected. Without good sights, we can hardly do anything meaningful. What you love, you protect, so let us desist from harmful practices. People perish for lack of knowledge,” she charged.
Narrating her ordeals, one of the visually impaired students, said Adekoya Misturah, a Senior Secondary School 3 (SS3) from Lagos State Model Senior college, Agbowa, who intends studying ‘Guidance & Counseling’ said, ‘I embrace who I’m, so I’m coping,”
Misturah revealed that she was not born blind but illness at the age of 5, led to the blindness. She urged the Lagos government to get the visually impaired children out of the streets, train them either in formal education or vocational skills acquisition as well as give them job opportunities.
“Our schools need to be equipped. Those without visual impairment should show empathy and compassion and help us in any they can instead of treating us with disdain like some people do at different occasions,” she urged.
On his part, the Director; Monitoring, Evaluation & Orientation, Lagos State office for Disabilities Affairs, Oguntoye Akintude, who represented the commissioner, ministry of Youth & Social Development, Olusegun Ganiyu Dawodu, said its ministry would do everything within its reach to support the visually impaired persons in the state.
“The Lagos state government joins the world to commemorate this day. And we shall not lag behind in support of the visually impaired persons” he maintained.