Lagos State Government has once again tasked citizens to go for periodic but regular eye check and ensure adequate care for their eyes in order to prevent irreversible and avoidable blindness.
State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi who stated this today at a public lecture organized by the Ministries of Health and Education to commemorate this year’s World Sight Day in Lagos noted that regular eye check will aid early detection, correction or management of any vision impairment that could lead to avoidable blindness.
Speaking on effort being made by the State Government to increase citizens access to eye health care at the public lecture which held physically at the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Alausa-Ikeja and virtually via zoom webinar, the Commissioner said it is rather unfortunate that many people are not privileged to have access to eye specialists who have the required expertise to determine what their vision impairment is and get adequate care.
“I wondered as I drove through busy Lagos today, how many Lagosians have actually had the opportunity to have their eye tested and what proportion of people walking around carrying on their daily business with some degree of visual impairment.
“I am sure if we do the evaluation and a random analysis, we will find a relatively large number of people who have visual impairment and perhaps many of them do not recognize that they have visual impairment because visual impairment occurs slowly. And for those that have refractive abnormalities, sometimes they don’t even know that they have a problem with their sight”, he noted.
The Commissioner disclosed that there are over a billion people in the world that have visual impairment because they don’t have access to corrective glasses adding that 75 percent of the visually impaired population have vision impairment because it was not prevented. “In other words they are avoidable situations, if it was recognized early enough, it could have been corrected”, he said.
Abayomi explained that the mission of the State government through the Ministry of Health is to explore platforms provided by activities such as the World sight day to bring to the attention of citizens issues of vision impairment, avoidable blindness and eye care.
He added that it is the responsibility of the Ministry to make information on blindness prevention available to the populace whilst also making it possible for many residents to have access to eye check, care and treatment including providing corrective eye glasses.
“It is not just to bring this to everyone’s understanding and attention but to actually do something about it. It is also our responsibility to identify problems that will lead to blindness and vision impairment and integrate eye health care to what we describe as the universal health coverage; which means that everyone in Lagos state should have access to a basic package of health and inclusive in that package, we should have the ability to check the health of our citizen’s eye so that they can see properly”, The Commissioner said..
Abayomi noted that there are many disorders that people have which may lead to vision impairment or blindness. He cited sugar diabetes, sickle cell and glaucoma as some of the disorders that may develop in one’s ability not to see clearly and often difficult to reverse if not addressed early.
“So this are the kind of things we do in the Ministry of Health as a form of policy, we make this information available to the public and we put program in place to ensure that we can prevent blindness in the first instance and secondly that for those of you that have visual impairment due to your inability to focus either on a piece of paper or distance that we can measure what that problem is and provide you with corrective glasses or lenses so that you are not handicapped with a simple procedure”, he stated.
Earlier in his remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye stated that it is not an accident this year’s world sight day focused on common causes and prevention of visual impairment among school children because of the importance of early detection in the correction and management of eye conditions
Ogboye stated that most students who are tagged dullards are actually smart and intelligent but perform poorly because they suffer from visual impairment which their parents or teachers are not aware of.
The Permanent Secretary enjoined parents, caregivers and teachers to pay attention to the eye health of children in order to identify early and seek help against any visual impairment that may militate against effective learning or which may lead to blindness.
The Guest Speaker; a Consultant Paediatrics Ophthalmologist, Dr. Modupe Idris who explained various causes of blindness among students and ways of preventing it warned students to avoid playing with sharp objects around the eyes and try as much as possible to resolve problems without a fight as a blow on the eye can lead to a permanent damage of the eyes.
Idris also urged teachers to take note of their students so as to quickly identify the visually impaired ones. She also advised teachers to be very careful in giving corporal punishment to students as the cane can accidentally hit the eyes.
Director, Medical Administration and Training, Dr. Funmilayo Shokunbi stated that government; parents and care givers have roles to play in preventing visual impairment in children. She added that the partnership of all in the prevention of blindness is nothing short of communal good which gives hope to sight.
Director, Public Affairs
8th October, 2020