Are Nigerians Prone to Cataract?

Cataract is a disease that causes decreased vision due to progressive opacification of the lens of the eye. For those who have access to modern medicine, cataracts can be treated with a short, outpatient surgery.

However, in developing regions of the world, surgery to remove cataracts is available to relatively few. In these places, cataracts devastate the personal and socioeconomic well-being of millions.

Sub-Saharan country like Nigeria which has an unusually high number of adults with cataracts. It has been estimated that cataract accounted for 47.8% of the 37 million people who were blind worldwide in 2002.

However, surveys conducted earlier showed that currently 750,000 Nigerians are already blinded by cataract and an additional 200,000 become blind each year, according to the Nigerian National blindness and Visual Impairment Survey.

Also, the Nigerian National Blindness and Visual Impairment Survey showed that there are estimated 486,000 adults in the country who are in immediate need of cataract surgery.

But, if nothing is done to save the vision of these Nigerians and many others, a recent study by the Nigeria National Blindness and Visual Impairment Study Group had predicted that by 2020, 1.4 million Nigerians over age 40 will lose their sights, and a majority of the causes will be either preventable or treatable if appropriate and accessible refraction and surgical services needed to be provided are not put in place.

According to experts, “If priority attention is not given, the number of blind and severely visually impaired adults in Nigeria will increase by greater than 40 per cent over the next decade.”

The study noted that groups that had less access to health care were particularly vulnerable to preventable visual impairment.

According to the study, “The difference in the prevalence of vision loss due to cataracts between men and women, urban and rural areas, and levels of education in Nigeria almost certainly reflect access to services.”

One obvious leading pointer to the rise in preventable blindness has remained cataract. For instance, the latest extrapolation of a prevalence rate for cataracts to countries and regions revealed that Nigeria has an estimated prevalence rate of 12,5750,3562  for cataracts.

This prevalence of cataract blindness is among people aged 50 and above ranged between 2.1 and It was 0.84% in South-Western Nigeria, 3.8% in Northern Nigeria and 4.1% in the Niger Delta

This study aimed to identify causes of the high rate of cataracts in Nigeria. To do so, we compared the lifestyle, education, and health care habits of adults with cataracts to those without cataracts in Nigeria.

This comparison demonstrated that having a higher level of education or a higher socio-economic standing correlated with a lower risk of cataract.

Understanding the interaction between social class, education and cataract will help guide future initiatives to reduce the burden of cataracts in Nigeria.

 

Some common signs & symptoms of Cataract are;

  • Clouded, blurred or dim vision
  • Increasing difficulty with vision at night
  • Sensitivity to light and glare
  • Need for brighter light for reading and other activities
  • Seeing “halos” around lights
  • Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact Lens
  • Fading or yellowing of colors
  • Double vision in a single eye
  • Poor night vision

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