There are hundreds of eye diseases and vision problems in Nigeria that are severe conditions that can cause visual difficulties. While some diseases have no cure, others can be effectively managed or treated. They vary in distribution worldwide due to geographical, racial, and socio-economic factors. Below are the leading 5 eye diseases in Nigeria.
Top 5 Eye Diseases in Nigeria
The prevalence of eye diseases and vision problems in Nigeria varies from state to state. However, it can be said that millions of Nigerians suffer from one form of vision problem. The leading five eye conditions that frequently result in vision loss or blindness are:
According to a survey, presbyopia is Nigeria’s most common eye disease affecting children. The eye’s capacity to focus on nearby objects diminishes gradually. It is also considered part of the aging process as it is possible in individuals in their early to mid-40s and continues to worsen until age 65.
Presbyopia is caused by a hardening of the eye’s lens, which occurs with aging. As your lens becomes less flexible, it can no longer change shape to focus on close-up images. Consequently, these images appear out of focus.
- Headaches or eye strains after reading or doing close-up work
- Difficulty in reading small prints
- Difficulty in seeing and focusing near distance objects
- Need to hold reading materials at arm’s reach
- Blurred vision
- Wear contact lenses or corrective eyeglasses
- Lens implant for presbyopia
- Refractive surgery
Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that result in a slow, progressive deterioration of the optic nerves. If left untreated, it can ultimately result in vision impairment and blindness. This condition manifests in various forms, but the two primary types, distinguished by intraocular pressure, are Open-angle glaucoma (generally more common) and Angle-closure glaucoma.
While the exact cause of glaucoma remains uncertain, several people with this condition have high eye pressure, also known as intraocular pressure. This condition typically has a hereditary component and may not manifest until later.
Glaucoma doesn’t usually have any visible signs, though some people may have:
- Eye pain/Redness in the eye
- Seeing halos around lights
- Narrowed vision
- Slow loss of vision, usually starting with side vision
- Blindness if left untreated or unchecked.
The primary treatment for glaucoma usually involves lowering intraocular pressure through medications, laser therapy, or surgery.
A cataract is a condition where the lens of the eye becomes cloudy. It is widely known as one of the predominant factors leading to vision loss among individuals aged 40 and older in Nigeria and a prominent contributor to global blindness. Cataracts disperse and obstruct the passage of light through the eye’s lens, impeding the formation of clear, well-defined images on the retina and consequently causing blurred vision. A study on retired public service workers in a metropolitan city in Southern Nigeria revealed that cataracts ranked among the top causes of blindness.
The lens is mainly made up of water and protein tissues, which are arranged precisely to keep the lens clear and transparent. Age-related factors and other medical conditions lead to the deterioration and aggregation of protein tissues in the lens, forming cloudy patches within the lens.
- Foggy, blurry, or double vision
- Nearsightedness (in older people)
- Difficulty in driving at night
- Fading or yellowing of colors
- Seeing halos around lights
- Sensitivity with bright lights
- Corrective eyeglasses or artificial lens
- Laser cataract surgery
A pterygium, a surfer’s eye, is a wing-shaped fibrovascular growth. It is a degenerative disorder in which the conjunctiva or mucous membrane, which is non-cancerous, covers the white part of the eye over the cornea. A benign growth frequently exhibits a wedge-like shape. It neither causes problems nor visual impairment but should be removed if it obstructs or interferes with vision.
The exact cause of pterygium is unclear, but it is believed that there is a dysfunction in the stem cells near the corneoscleral junction, resulting in its information.
- Eye pain and redness
- Diminished vision
- Grittiness, dryness, or foreign body sensation
- Contact lens
- Allergic Conjunctivitis
Allergic conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the conjunctiva resulting from an allergic reaction. It occurs when a person’s eye comes into contact with an allergen (a foreign substance that makes the body react). The vision becomes inflamed and sore. Some allergens include animal fur, pollen, eye drops, cosmetic products/make-up, dust mites, etc. In Nigeria, this eye disease is called ‘Apollo Eye Disease.’
Allergic conjunctivitis occurs when the body’s defense mechanisms are activated in response to a perceived threat, typically when the eye is exposed to substances that induce the release of histamine (a powerful chemical employed by the body to combat intruders) and other active substances by mast cells.
- Watery discharge or tearing
- Eyelid swelling
- Ocular itching
- Foreign body sensation with pain
- Avoid allergens
- Artificial tears
- Avoid contact lenses
- Avoid rubbing the eyes
- Drugs, including antihistamines, mast cell stabilizers, and corticosteroids