By Felicia Imohimi
Dr Gboyega Ajayi, an Ophthalmologist, says six out of 10 people in Nigeria, from 60 years and above have some evidence of lens opacity otherwise known as cataract.
Ajayi, Group Medical Director, Eleta Eye Institute, Ibadan, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
He identified age as a major cause of cataract.
Ajayi, however, explained that though injury and age, among others, contribute to the rate, age was responsible for nine out of 10 cases in the country.
He attributed the figure to 2009 National Survey on Blindness and Low Vision as well as other local studies carried out by experts.
“Everyone in the world is a potential cataract patient because the most important cause of cataract is age. So, as you are getting older you are more likely to get cataract than those who are much younger.
“Also, children have congenital cataract when something goes wrong in their mother’s womb, especially in the first three months of conception,” Ajayi said.
He further identified cataract as responsible for over four million people that are either visually impaired or blind in Nigeria.
The ophthalmologist, noted that cataract could be corrected through surgery, adding that once surgery is done blindness due to such eye diseases will be reversed.
“The good thing is that cataract blindness is reversible by simple cataract surgery,” he said.
According to Wikipedia, a cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye which leads to a decrease in vision.
It often develops slowly and can affect one or both eyes.
Symptoms may include faded colours, blurry vision, halos around light, trouble with bright lights and trouble seeing at night.
This may result in trouble driving, reading or recognising faces.
The ophthalmologist described as false trending information on the Internet that some special eye drops “can dissolve cataract and that surgery is not necessary”.
According to him, those peddling this misinformation are misleading members of the public while smiling to the bank.
He, however, advised all Nigerians to prioritise their eye health irrespective of age in order to ensure early detection of cataract and other eye diseases such as glaucoma which, unlike cataract, causes irreversible blindness.
He emphasised that such measures would go a long way to reduce the rate of blindness due to cataract and glaucoma been the leading causes of blindness.