On 05/Mar/2018 / In Press Publications
This year Nigerian Optometric Association (NOA) will be celebrating 50years of its contributions to eye health in Nigeria and as part of the activities to mark this laudable landmark, the Association is launching today in Owerri, “My Sight, My Right” initiative for children between the ages of 5 – 14 years.
An estimated 19 million children are vision impaired globally. Of these, 12 million children have vision impairment due to refractive error. Around 1.4 million have irreversible blindness, requiring access to vision rehabilitation services to optimize functioning and reduce disability. More than 80% cases of visual impairment, including blindness, are preventable and treatable with simple and cost-effective interventions. For example, providing spectacles is a simple intervention to correct errors of refraction; cataract surgery dramatically improves eyesight, in most cases almost instantly.
Healthy eyes for all are only achievable through the combined efforts of policy-makers, health workers, and communities. According to Professor Eleazar Uchenna Ikonne, in his inaugural lecture “Seeing is Believing” at Abia State University Uturu, “Holistic approach to health care delivery system requires a multidisciplinary orientation in the evaluation of the health of the Nigeria child and that given the almost monopoly of contribution of visual information to the development of the child, the Optometrist becomes a veritable member of this multidisciplinary group”.
Every last Friday of the month, starting March 2018 for the next 10months, volunteer private eye clinics across the federation operated by registered doctors of optometry will throw their doors open to children between the ages of 5 to 14 for free comprehensive eye exam.
My SIGHT, My Right initiative will be managed by the NOA and its objectives includes among others;
- Provide over 40,000 children between the ages of 5-14years quality and easy access to free eye care from March to December, 2018 using identified eye clinics manned by our members.
- Contribute to the realization of World Health Organization (WHO) “Universal Eye Health Initiative: A global action plan 2014-2019” which aims to reduce the prevalence of avoidable visual impairment by 25 per cent by 2019.
- Create awareness on the need for early intervention on causes of visual impairment among children
- Campaign for inclusive eye health
- Encourage the integration of child eye health in the policies and programmes of ministries of Health and Education
Our gratitude goes to the media for the role they going to play in helping the association create awareness on this project as well so Imo State Government for anticipated support of this project even when it cuts across other states of the federation. The association envisions accomplishing this project by placing a strong and equitable eye health system within which Optometry and other stakeholders play a valuable and essential role.
Dr Damian Echendu
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