by Chi Ibe
At a recent workshop on ‘Low Vision’ for optometrists, ophthalmologists and ophthalmic nurses, Dr. Bassey Etim, estimated that about 1.13 million Nigerians aged 40 and above are currently blind.
According to the Punch reports, Etim said this in Calabar, the Cross River State at the National Eye Health Programme in conjunction with the International Centre for Eyecare Education. According to his report, 2.7 million adults were estimated to have moderate visual impairment with an additional 400, 000 persons being severely visually impaired, thus bringing to a total of 4.25 million adults in Nigeria that are either visually impaired or blind. According to him, in Nigeria, untreated cataract is the commonest cause of low vision and blindness, while 84 per cent of visual impairment in Nigeria either preventable or treatable.
He said out of that figure, the North-West geo-political zone had the highest number of blind adults (28.6 per cent), being the zone with the largest population.
Also speaking at the event, the Sub-regional Manager, West Africa of ICEE, Dr. Anne Ebri, said traditionally low vision services had come under neglect as practitioners had very limited skills with inaccessibility to assessment tools and devices.
She said NEHP in collaboration with ICEE, the Cross River State Ministry of Health and the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital had trained 45 practitioners that provide low vision services in 34 tertiary and secondary institutions in the country.