The Nigerian Optometric Association (NOA) has called on Nigerians living in rural and urban areas to take charge of their sight by demanding better eye care services from the government.
Dr Ozy Okonokhua, President of NOA, on Saturday, in commemoration of the annual World Optometry Day, held on March 23, said every Nigerian, had the right to sight by having optometrists in their healthcare centres for constant eye checks and care, however, regretted that such rights were being denied citizens.
He said that a lot of persons in rural areas were avoidably blind due to lack of access to primary eye care providers.
He also noted that such unfortunate health complication could have been averted if optometrists were designated in such communities which had primary health services; but lacked eye care services.
“A nation with primary health services without primary eye care services is like a body moving without eyes.
“There are many persons today who are avoidably blind in rural areas, but if government had the will power to deploy optometrists to complement its efforts, this problem could have been avoided.
“We therefore implore Nigerian citizens everywhere to take charge of their sight.
“It is your duty and responsibility to find an optometrist wherever possible to examine your eyes regularly so as to ensure a better sight, better life and better tomorrow,’’ the NOA president said.
He said the eye was a sensitive organ that needed optimal care and it was only an optometrist that would be able to diagnose, treat and manage visual diseases, injuries, and disorders; as well as identify related systemic conditions affecting eyesight.
According to him, the eye doctor will be able to prevent premature blindness by prescribing the correct medications, vision therapy; and also perform certain surgical procedures.
Okonokhua said only the optometrist could be able to give the right counselling for patients in respect to surgical and non-surgical options that would meet their visual needs and according to their occupations and lifestyle.
Speaking on the significance of the day; the NOA president said that the World Optometry Day was celebrated annually to create awareness about optometry and its doctors that were dedicating their lives to preventing the loss of the “precious gift of sight’’.
“Today all humans with gifted sight celebrate a noble profession that goes beyond sight.
“A wise man once said; next to life is light and next to light is sight; we celebrate the patriarch of the profession.
“We remember those who are far away in rural communities hoping that one day a doctor of Optometry would come to their aid.
“We celebrate optometrists around the world who are significantly contributing to improving the quality of life of all persons of all ages; we celebrate optometrists in Nigeria for their enormous contributions to eye health,’’ Okonokhua said.