Nigeria needs more optometrists to enhance vision, prevent blindness


The Nigerian Optometric Association (NOA) has urged the Federal Government to employ at least one optometrist in each of the 776 Local Government Areas (LGAs) across the country.

President of the association, Damian Echendu, who made the call in Abuja, noted that government adding that the number is grossly inadequate to provide eye care services to 186 million Nigerians engages only 800 out of its 4,000 optometrists.

He explained that the Nigerian situation indicates that one optometrist was expected to cater to the eye needs of about 232,000 people.

He lamented that with an estimated one per cent of Nigeria’s population suffering blindness due to preventable causes, the nation was still losing manpower from its pool of eye care specialists to hospitals in the Middle East and Asia, because opportunities to engage them in public service have been lacking.

Echendu said: “Many of our 3,200 members, engaged in private practice, are leaving the shores of this country for hospitals in Asia and the Middle-East, especially Saudi Arabia because the government has not been engaging them.

“So, we want the government to engage more of our members in the public sector.

It can employ one more optometrist in each local government. At worse, one in each Senatorial District to serve more citizens particularly in the rural areas.”

Echendu urged the government to also increase the level of awareness on eye health and vision care among the populace with a view to preventing blindness through knowledge and information.

He disclosed that NOA, on its part, has concluded plans to launch a free eye service care programme across the country for children between age five and 14.

Meanwhile, a renowned American optometrist and chief executive officer Eye See Euphoria, Dr. Darryl Glover has also called for more optometrists in the country.

Glover made the call at the official opening of Eye See Euphoria outfit in Lekki Lagos.

From statistics, he pointed out that, “In United States (US) one optometrist carters for 3,000 patients while in Nigeria one optometrist caters for 30,000 or 40,000 patients hence there is need for more optometrists to help people restore their eye”.

He commended the Nigerian doctors and those from Diaspora for regularly conducting free eye screening and checkups.

Glover said he would partner optometrists to assist a lot of Nigerians and those in the grassroots attain healthy eyesight.

According to him, most kids need eyeglasses to read and comprehend but a lot of them are affected with poor vision.

The global optometrist has over twenty years experience in the optometric community as eyewear consultant, office manager and optometrist at various capacity, maintained that he could diagnose a patient or examining the back of the eyes or cornea, and could detect different disease related to high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetic.

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