By Rabiu Sani
A Consultant Ophthalmologist, Dr Usman Ibrahim-Yuguda, has urged Nigerians to be wary of traditional medications and unorthodox treatment for eye diseases to enhance eye care in the country.
He made the call at a news conference in Kano on Thursday as part of activities to mark the 2020 World Sight Day.
The consultant ophthalmologist with the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKHT) said that the rate at which eye patients resort to unorthodox treatment of diseases was disturbing and a serious threat to eye health.
Ibrahim-Yuguda warned that indiscriminate use of traditional medications to treat eye diseases could lead to blindness and vision impairment.
He said: “people who have eye diseases such as redness of the eye, tearing, pain and decrease in vision need not go to chemist or apply traditional medications and use all sorts of eye drops.
“Some eye drops might not be ideal for the disease condition, it is not ideal to apply it on the eyes.
“Some people use water; salt and sugar solution, onion juice, urine and cow dung on their eyes.
Yuguda, who listed some of the common eye diseases in the country to include cataract, glaucoma and refractive error, said “screening is the first most important thing to do in eye care.”
According to him, the focus of the management of the AKTH to mark the World Sight Day is in line with the COVID-19 safety guidelines.
He added that the hospital offered free eye screening and distributed eye drops to some patients, noting that the hospital also carried out advocacy campaigns to create awareness on eye health and preventive tips.
Dr Sadiq Hassan, the Head of the Ophthalmology Department of the hospital, said the hospital was conducting a study in collaboration with the Bayero University, Kano, to enhance the treatment of eye cancer in children.
Hassan disclosed that “the hospital utilises the ‘Diode Lasser” treatment technique to treat patients with eye cancer (Retinoblastoma).
According to him, retinoblastoma is a genetic disease, categorised into hereditary and sporadic,
manifested more among rural dwellers.
“The study will establish the cause of the disease manifestation in rural areas and how to enhance case management and treatment, ” he said.
Hassan explained that effective awareness creation activities observed during the annual glaucoma and World Sight Day had promoted positive attitudinal change to eye care and health services in communities.
“The attitude is improving with the introduction of the Glaucoma, World Sight Day and community outreach, as people visit clinic to check their eyes.
“When you are over 40 years of age, you should check your eyes at least once in a year,” he said.
Dr Eme Okpo, the Chairman, Kano State chapter of the Nigerian Optometrists Association, stressed the need for people to check their eyes regularly, and embrace the use of glasses to improve their vision.
He said “I want to encourage people to check their eyes once in a year; some cases are hereditary even wearing of glasses, when you notice that at the early stage, we will handle and protect your eyes.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that World Sight Day is annually observed on the second Thursday of October to focus global attention to blindness and vision impairment.
The theme for this year’s edition is: “Hope In Sight.”
The celebration of the day was initiated by the SightFirstCampaign of Lions Club International Foundation in year 2000. (NAN)