A recent discovery showed that one out of every five primary school children in Yaba, Lagos, had sight impairment.
At a recent health exercise, it was discovered that 200 out of 1,000 pupils that underwent screening had various forms of eye defects.
Organisers of the eye test said that the shocker further underlined the now growing belief that eye impairment was no longer a condition suffered by the aged alone. Now, a lot of children too are at risk.
Dr. Samuel Uduaghan, one of the optometrists who conducted the screening, said: “Most of the kids were diagnosed with short-sightedness. They couldn’t see the chalkboard from afar; so, they were given a pair of corrective lenses each to help them improve their studies.
“Whether the lenses will finally correct the challenge depends on the kind of challenge they have. There are some of them that come down with sprains and pains and may be having tears if they read for a long time because of the stress their eyes are going through.
“There are those whose challenges will be corrected with plus lenses because they have the tendency to have long sight or inability to see things that are close as against those who have short sight. The former are the ones that have the tendency of dropping their lenses when they grow up because the challenge has been corrected.
“But for the short-sighted ones, there is the tendency that they might use the lenses for life.”
The screening exercise, Daily Sun learnt, was conducted courtesy of a partnership involving Catholic Optical Outreaches, VisionSpring, Zenith Bank Plc and USAID. The team was at the Yaba Local Council Development Area of Lagos State, where it screened 1,000 pupils from 16 primary schools in the area. It was a gesture that had the blessings of the council chairman, Mr. Kayode Omiyale.
At a ceremony at the Yaba council secretariat, the 200 children, accompanied by their teachers, were presented with free eyeglasses to help improve their sight and enhance their learning.
Earlier, Omiyale, while thanking the team for its show of love for children in his council, said: “I had thought that children had no issues with their eyes, that eye issues were exclusive problems of the aged, until this screening exercise. This is a warning for all of us to begin to take the health of our children seriously.
“We thank this team for its corporate social responsibility initiative, because he who gives sight gives light. They have recognised that government cannot do it alone. So, we are happy for their involvement in the health of our children. But, like Oliver Twist, we are asking that they extend this to adult residents of our council.”
He appealed to the children to guard their eyes and sight jealously by avoiding reading in the dark or in the sun.
A representative of Zenith Bank Plc, Mrs. Eunice Sampson, said her organisation was delighted to be involved in the project.
“We are happy because we are helping our children to see well and to perform better in their academics by ensuring that they have good vision.
“It is a surprise that out of more than 1,000 children screened, 20 per cent of them had bad vision. By doing this, we are helping them to see tomorrow and we are contributing to their future,” she said.
Bello Timushe, a Primary Five pupil of Agha Primary School, Adekunle, and Jumoke Olarenwaju a Primary Four pupil of St. Patrick’s School, Sabo, expressed happiness at the gifts.
A member of the Parent-Teacher Association in the area, Deacon Olusoji Adam, thanked all the organisations that conducted the eye test and gave the eyeglasses.
On her part, Mrs. Atinuke Adeyinka, who stood in for VisionSpring, expressed happiness that her organisation was working with other partners to give Nigerians good sight.
“We actually intended to carry out this in secondary schools and universities, but the process of getting approvals seemed too long. So we started with primary schools.
“Our aim is to reach out to as many Nigerians as possible and to let them know the need to regularly run a check on their eyes every year.
“We want to encourage those who have eye challenges to get a pair of eyeglasses. As we age, so do our eyes, and we need such eyeglasses to aid our vision,” she said.
A representative of the Catholic Optical Outreaches based in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, Rev. Fr. Chris Ogunupebi, said that the Catholic Church’s involvement was part of its social work of bringing the love of Christ to all.
“The church will continue to do such works in bringing together everybody that can support an initiative like this. The church can do as much as she can but may not be able to reach out to all, thus we are having this partnership,” he said.