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We need more public awareness programmes

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Dear readers,

This is my last article for the year 2012. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for taking time out to engage with my articles. It is so inspiring and motivating to get feedback from people of all walks of life, telling me how an article made a difference in their lives.{{more}}

I must also express my gratitude for all the comments: the good, the bad and the ugly. They have helped me grow and I believe I am a better person because of this. 2013 promises to be a great year.

Even as I write this, I still believe we need to step up our efforts with public awareness. I say this because just the other day, a 74-year-old gentleman came to visit us with the complaint of cloudy vision. Can you believe this? This was his first eye exam ever, at the age of 74. He told us that he had always been very healthy all his life. As a matter of fact, he was an athlete and therefore felt no urgent need to visit an eye doctor.

After looking at his eyes, we had to do a double take. This gentleman had cataracts and advanced glaucoma. The vision in both eyes was severely diminished and his peripheral field of vision was nonexistent on the left eye and in the right eye there was only 30 per cent of residual peripheral vision.

His optic discs were totally cupped (eaten out) and pale and it was with a heavy heart that I had to tell him that there was not much we could do for him.

Even if we removed the cataracts, the damage from the glaucoma would prevent him from ever seeing 100 per cent. It is akin to a car with a damaged engine. No matter what else you do to it, the car will still not start. You can change the tyres, the muffler, the gearbox, but nothing will happen unless you deal with the engine. Unfortunately, unlike a car engine that can be replaced, the optic nerve cannot be replaced at this time of writing (even though experiments are underway to put chips in the back of human eyes, we still have a long way to go).

If he had been doing regular check-ups, this would never have happened. He admitted during the interview that several brothers and sisters suffered with glaucoma.

The major causes of blindness are cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic eye disease. In order to get a handle on them, we need more public awareness programs. I hope I have made a difference to some of your lives.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. “See you” in 2013.

Dr Kenneth Onu is a resident Consultant Ophthalmologist at
the Beachmont Eye Institute/Eyes R Us Send questions to:
Beachmont@gmail.com

Tel: 784 456-1210

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