News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

Association to conduct free eye test for children in FCT

A child undergoing an eye test

By Felicia Imohimi

The Nigerian Optometric Association (NOA) says it will kick start a nationwide comprehensive free eye test for children between the ages of five and 14.

Dr Ngozi Nwanekezie, Chairperson of NOA FCT Chapter, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja that the initiative was aimed at improving the sight of children in the country.

She said the exercise was slated for every last Friday of the month and it would begin on March 30 and end in November.

Nwanekezie said the initiative was tagged “My sight, my right”, adding that the objective was to ensure high quality vision and eye health as the right of every child.

She explained that the association decided to concentrate on children because “a healthy nation starts from the children’’.

The chairperson said that the initiative was part of the association’s activities to commemorate its 50 years contributions to eye health in the country.

The initiative is also to reduce the burden of children with visual impairment in the country.

According to her, the initiative is to identify children with vision challenge, to address the burden before adulthood.

Nwanekezie said an estimated 19 million children were vision impaired globally, adding that 12 million children out of the number were vision impaired due to refractive error.

The chairperson frowned at the number of children that dropped out of school in the country due to their inability to perform well because of visual challenge.

She specifically noted that if those children’s eyes were thoroughly examined, such challenge would have been corrected earlier.

Nwanekezie listed the participatory clinics for the free eye screening exercise in FCT to include  Opticare Eye zone 2, Eyes R Us Vision Centre Garki 2, Aso Vision Centre Wuse 2, Fereprod Medical Centre Area 11 and Maldor Eyecare Centre Maitama.

Others are HJ eye clinic, the Eye Place Utako, Cypress Eye Centre Area 3, De-Lens Ophthalmics Gudu, Smiley Optical Services Wuse, Rayfields Eye Centre Durumi, Vision Flow eye section Jikwoyi, Hassan Hospital Maitama, Just Vision at Next shopping mall and Supreme Vision Wuse 2.

According to her, 80 per cent of what a child learns is visual, so a child that goes to school with impaired vision, such child will never be successful academically.

“So we are determined to redeem or raise self esteem of large number of children who have visual challenge,” she said.

According to her, early detection of every eye problem will go a long way in addressing such visual challenge both in children and adults.

“Around 1.4 million people have irreversible blindness, requiring access to vision rehabilitation services, to optimise functioning and reduce disability.

“More than 80 per cent cases of visual impairment, including blindness, are preventable and treatable with simple and cost-effective interventions.

“For example, providing spectacles is a simple intervention to correct errors of refraction; cataract surgery dramatically improves eyesight, in most cases almost instantly,” she said.

Similarly, Dr Adesuwa Ogli, Chairperson Local Organizing Committee of “My Sight, My Vision Project’’, noted that the exercise was scheduled for every last Friday of every month from 10.a.m to 4 p.m.

Ogli said the objectives of the programme included getting a data base of vision impairment in Nigeria and to create awareness on the need for early intervention on causes of visual impairment.

She said it was a means of campaign for the integration of child eye health in the policies and programmes of ministries of health and education.

Ogli explained that the initiative would contribute to the realisation of World Health Organization (WHO) “Universal Eye Health Initiative’’.

According to him, it is a global action plan for 2014 to 2019 aimed at reducing the prevalence of avoidable visual impairment by 25 per cent by 2019.

She identified 160 private eye clinics across the country as participatory clinics in the Corporate Social Responsibilities Initiatives across the country.

She said 24 of the number were designated in FCT.