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by Chinomso Ogbugh 20 Mar 2023

Over 80million people in the world today are suffering from glaucoma. Sadly, a large number of these people are not aware. This is because Glaucoma, popularly known as “the thief of sight” is the second leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. It is painless and the visual symptoms show up very late and by then about 60% of vision is already lost. This is why The World Glaucoma Week exists as a joint global action to create awareness of glaucoma.

Loss of vision from glaucoma impacts the lives of a great number of people especially those in the aging population as they become dependent on others for their daily life activities. The importance of a yearly eye examination can never be overemphasized for everyone, especially if there is family history of glaucoma and in the absence of that, glaucoma can rise from other causes like;
- Trauma to the eyes
- Genetic mutation in children
- Old age and so many others.
According to WHO projection, the number of people with glaucoma worldwide will increase to 111.8million in the next 10 years and almost half of this number are Africans.
In Africa, we tend to neglect our health a whole lot until we are down with a serious condition. Let me share a story about a young man from Nigeria known as Mr. Onasanya, he was 39years of age and was preparing for his wedding. He noticed he had difficulty reading tiny prints and visited the clinic, during examination, the doctor noticed his Eye Pressure was extremely high and after further investigation, he was diagnosed of advanced glaucoma which he never he knew he had. He was offered surgery but he refused because his wedding was fast approaching, he was then asked to come back for a follow up after his wedding which he didn’t. 5 years later, he was led into the clinic by his wife. He had already lost his vision and the vision lost is irreversible, he cried in regrets wishing he did as he was advised.

The major challenge we have in Africa is that there isn’t enough awareness done for glaucoma and patients’ refusal to adhere to doctor’s instructions. The good thing is that it can be avoided if you and your family choose to make it a priority to go for eye examinations at least once in a year.

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