By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos
Lagos State government has advised citizens to improve the health of their eyes by adopting good eye healthcare practices and a healthy lifestyle as part of measures to prevent avoidable blindness and vision loss.
Speaking at a news briefing heralding the Year 2022 World Sight Day commemoration in Lagos State, the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, explained that citizens should improve the health of their eyes by eating healthy diets, going for regular eye checks. protecting the eye from injury and trauma.
More measures recommended by Abayomi in order that people should have healthy eyesight include avoidance of self-medication, avoidance of patronizing quacks and wearing sunglasses that offer ultra violet (UV) protection to prevent radiation from the sun damaging the eyes.
Other good eye healthcare practices according to him include, avoid playing with sharp objects, avoid instilling injurious substance into the eyes, avoid smoking, exercising regularly, visiting only certified ophthalmic eye hospital if you have eye complaints, wearing only prescribed glasses from an eye care provider and checking and controlling blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
Abayomi said that the need to create awareness and draw attention to eye health as a local and global health issue cannot be emphasized, stressing that eye health impacts the quality of life, education, employment and all areas of life of an individual.
“There is so much to see in this beautiful word but this is only possible if your eyes are in good condition. The occasion of the year 2022 World Sight Day, presents another opportunity to remind us that we must all give attention to our vision and protect our eyes from blinding eye conditions; vision is what must come first and protecting eyesight is what is extremely important,” he said.
“The theme for this year’s World Sight Day, “Love Your Eyes, Save Lives”, is a reminder for everyone to love their eyes, protect it and give attention to their vision, to love your eyes is about being aware and maintaining your eye health”, he added.
The commissioner disclosed that the State Government will intensify its eye healthcare education, sensitization and enlightenment campaigns especially in rural and riverine communities and hard to reach areas to raise the consciousness of citizens on blindness prevention and good eye care practices. This, he said, would be done employing methods used for community and rural outreaches.
“The objective of this kind of activity is to raise public awareness and public understanding around a public health issue, and the public health issue we are talking about now is the protection and maintenance of one of the most important senses that we have as human beings, which is the sense of visual, sight and more importantly, visual acuity.
“So, on occasions like this, we try to raise the importance of public health measures to protect and preserve accuracy of eyesight. The eyes are very delicate organ, they are actually an extension of your brain that comes out onto the surface of your face, and any slight injury or slight alteration of the environment, either by infection, trauma or the application of the wrong drugs or drops, can cause significant damage”, Abayomi stated.
He pointed out that common diseases like sickle cells, high blood pressure and diabetes, if not detected early and treated by the medical professional, can affect the eyes and cause serious damage to the eyes.
“The statistics tell us that eight out of every ten impairment of sight is caused by conditions that can be easily prevented or, when they occur, can be treated. And so there are eight people out of every ten blind people that are walking around with lack of eyesight because they failed to have access to a prevention or a treatment strategy. That is a very sad statistic.
“So as small as these eyes are, they are so important to our wellbeing and our state of mind and our happiness and loss of eyesight is one of the commonest causes of depression, because when you lose your sight or your sight is becoming impaired, you recognize how important that gift that you had of good sight is or has been. And so today, we join the rest of the world to raise the understanding and to bring to the attention of our citizens the importance of protecting your eyes and doing things that will stop you from losing visual accuracy and know the right places to go to receive significant intervention”, Abayomi said.
The health commissioner explained that the Lagos State Government recognizing the importance of eye health, has continued to champion and implement programmes and policies aimed at blindness prevention and good sight for citizens.
He disclosed that the State Government through its Blindness Prevention Program has screened over 600,000 people for eye defects, offered free eye glasses to 240,000 citizens and provided free surgical intervention to 30,000 others across the state.
“The Lagos State Ministry of Health has a very large eyesight program. In the last years, we’ve reached out to over 600,000 people to examine their visual capacity, and out of that group, about 240,000 have received free refractory eyesight glasses which have been able to transform their inaccurate vision to good visual perception. Also out of that number, about 30,000 have received free surgical intervention to either remove a cataract or to repair the damage caused by raised eyeball pressure that we call glaucoma or some kind of laser treatments that correct the problems caused by sickle cell diseases, hypertension and diabetics”. He said.
Speaking on activities put together to commemorate the day, the Director, Medical Administration, Training and Programs, Dr. Olufunmilayo Shokunbi, disclosed that aside the press briefing which seeks to draw attention of citizens to the need to take proper care of their eyes, the Ministry of Health through the Blindness Prevention Programme Unit will also offer free eye screening including provision of free eye glasses to people with refractive error, free eye drugs for minor eye disorders and free cataract surgery for restoration of vision.
According to her, the free screening and surgery will be carried out on Wednesday 12th October and Thursday 13th October at the General Hospital Ikorodu and General Hospital respectively. She added that the intervention will also be carried out at Badagry, Epe and Lagos Island at a soon to be announced date.
“This strongly shows how much importance this present government has placed on eye care for the citizens of the State. The Ministry of Health is committed to implementing policies and programs that will ultimately reduce and eliminate blindness amongst the citizenry”, Shokunbi said.