Nigeria has close to 50 million persons suffering from some form of visual disability or the other, the Nigerian Optometric Association (NOA) has said.
President of the association, Dr Obinna Awiaka, stated this Wednesday in Abuja while briefing newsmen on the association’s 45th annual conference, vision expo and annual general meeting.
The theme of the conference is “Leveraging partnership to transform optometry and eye care in West Africa.”
Over 2,000 optometrists, other eye care practitioners and industry stakeholders from within and beyond the shores of Nigeria were expected to attend the conference which started on July 12 and would end on July 16 in Abuja.
Awiaka said the visual disabilities limit the affected persons’ ability to work, learn or play.
He said, “Nearly 300 million people are blind across the world, about 90 percent of them live in developing countries and nearly seven million of them in Nigeria.
“The percentage of people living with visual disabilities across the world is almost 40 percent. Nigeria has close to 50 million persons that have some form of visual disability or the other, limiting their ability to work, learn or play.”
He said the massive brain drain of eye care professionals and other health care professionals from Nigeria to other countries had worsened the burden of blindness statistics in the country.
Also speaking, Dr Okechukwu Egboluche, Public Relations Officer of the association said two out of every 10 optometrists in Nigeria are migrating out of the country for greener pastures.
The association also called on the government to urgently address the issues surrounding the plight of healthcare workers in Nigeria, in order to give the country a fighting chance to avoid the impending blindness epidemic.