October 19, 2023

Eye conditions or ocular problems are severe issues that can cause visual difficulties. They vary in distribution worldwide due to geographical, racial, and socio-economical factors. Below are the four common eye diseases in Nigeria.

4 Common Eye Diseases in Nigeria

The prevalence of eye diseases in Nigeria differs from state to state. However, it can be said that millions of Nigerians suffer from one form of eye issue. Here are four common eye disorders include:

  1. Presbyopia

    This is a gradual loss of the ability of the eye to focus on near objects. It is also considered a part of the aging process as it is noticeable in persons in their mid-40s and continues to worsen until around age 60. Also, one research found it to be one of the most common eye disorders affecting children.

    Cause:

    Presbyopia develops due to the gradual stiffening of the eye’s lens as you age. As your lens becomes less flexible, it can no longer change the shape to focus on close-up images. Consequently, these images appear out of focus.

    Common Symptoms:

    • Headaches and eye strain
    • Difficulty in reading small prints
    • Difficulty in focusing and seeing close objects
    • Require bright lightning
    • Squinting

    Risks and Complications:

    • Anemia (lack of enough normal blood cells)
    • Cardiovascular disease
    • Diabetes
    • Hyperopia, or farsightedness (difficulty seeing objects that are far away)
    • Multiple sclerosis (a chronic illness that can affect the spine and brain)
    • Myasthenia gravis (MG, a neuromuscular disorder that affects muscles and nerves)
    • Eye disease or trauma
    • Vascular insufficiency or poor blood flow
  2. Glaucoma

    Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that cause gradual damage to the optic nerves, leading to blindness and vision loss if left untreated. It consists of different varieties, but the two main types, marked by the pressure in the eye, are open-angle (considered more prevalent) and angle-closure.

    Cause:

    There are many factors that can affect it, but the most important factor is intraocular eye pressure. Your eyes produce a fluid aqueous humor that nourishes the cornea. The clear liquid moves from your pupil towards the front of your eye. This fluid exits through the drainage channels between your iris and cornea in a normally functioning eye.

    In cases of glaucoma, there is an impediment in these drainage canals, causing the fluid to accumulate within your eye. This surplus fluid exerts pressure on your eye, and over time, this heightened eye pressure can harm your optic nerve, potentially resulting in glaucoma. Regular eye care is key for early treatment of glaucoma.

    Common Symptoms:

    • Redness and eye pain,
    • Nausea and vomiting,
    • Narrowed vision,
    • Blurry eyes or blindness if left untreated

    Risks and Complications:

    • Family History
    • Over the age of 60
    • Trauma to the eye or ear
    • Other medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and sickle cell anemia
  3. Cataract

    A cataract occurs when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, leading to vision impairment. In Nigeria, it ranks as one of the common reasons for vision loss in individuals over the age of 40 and the main cause of blindness around the globe. It scatters and obstructs the passage of light through the lens, preventing a clear and focused image from reaching the retina, ultimately resulting in a loss of visual clarity.

    The common types of cataracts are:

    • Nuclear cataracts (Cataracts that affect the center of the lens)
    • Subcapsular cataracts (Cataracts that affect the back of the lens)
    • Posterior cataracts (Cataracts that affect the edges of the lens)
    • Congenital Cataracts (Cataracts people are born with)

    Cause:

    The eye lens is mainly made up of protein tissues and water, which are arranged precisely to keep the lens clear and transparent. Medical conditions and age-related factors cause these protein tissues within the lens to break down and clump together, clouding small areas within the lens.

    Common Symptoms:

    • Blurry, foggy, or double vision
    • Nearsightedness
    • Fading or yellowing of colors
    • Seeing halos around lights
    • Troubles with bright lights

    Risks and Complications:

    • Age
    • U.V light exposure
    • Previous eye injury or inflammation
    • Heavy drinking
    • High blood pressure
    • Obesity
    • Previous eye surgery
    • Prolonged use of corticosteroid medications
  4. Allergic Conjunctivitis

    Allergic conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the conjunctiva triggered by an allergic reaction. It generally occurs when a person’s eye comes into contact with an allergen. The eye becomes sore and inflamed. Common allergens include animal fur, pollen, eye drops, make-up/cosmetics, dust, mites, etc. In Nigeria, this eye disease is also known as the ‘Apollo Red Eye.’

    Cause:

    Allergic conjunctivitis arises when the body tries to protect itself against a perceived threat, which happens when the eye comes in contact with substances that cause the release of histamine and other active compounds released by the mast cells.

    Common Symptoms:

    • Ocular itching
    • Eyelid swelling
    • Tearing
    • Photophobia
    • Watery discharge
    • Foreign body sensation with pain

    Risks and Complications:

    • Exposure to allergens or irritants, including pollen, dust mites, pet dander, mold spores, and certain foods.
    • Perennial Allergies
    • Family History
    • More common in children and young adults, although it can affect people of all ages.
    • Atopic Conditions such as atopic dermatitis (eczema) or asthma
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