October 30, 2023

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:

  1. Presbyopia

    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.

    Cause

    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.

    Symptoms

    • 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

    Treatment

    • Wear contact lenses or corrective eyeglasses
    • Lens implant for presbyopia
    • Refractive surgery
  2. Glaucoma

    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.

    Cause

    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.

    Symptoms

    Glaucoma doesn’t usually have any visible signs, though some people may have:

    • Eye pain/Redness in the eye
    • Seeing halos around lights
    • Nausea/vomiting
    • Narrowed vision
    • Slow loss of vision, usually starting with side vision
    • Blindness if left untreated or unchecked.

    Treatment

    The primary treatment for glaucoma usually involves lowering intraocular pressure through medications, laser therapy, or surgery.

  3. Cataract

    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.

    Cause

    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.

    Symptoms

    • 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

    Treatment

  4. Pterygium

    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.

    Cause

    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.

    Symptoms

    • Eye pain and redness
    • Diminished vision
    • Grittiness, dryness, or foreign body sensation
    • Diplopia.

    Treatment

    • Contact lens
    • Surgery
  5. 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.’

    Cause

    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.

    Symptoms

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

    Treatment

    • Avoid allergens
    • Artificial tears
    • Avoid contact lenses
    • Avoid rubbing the eyes
    • Drugs, including antihistamines, mast cell stabilizers, and corticosteroids

Other Top 15 Diseases Of The Eye

Given below is the eye problems list compiled by our expert ophthalmologists

  1. Cataracts
  2. Diabetic retinopathy
  3. Glaucoma
  4. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
  5. Retinal detachment
  6. Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  7. Dry eye syndrome
  8. Refractive errors (such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism)
  9. Floaters and flashes
  10. Retinitis pigmentosa
  11. Keratoconus
  12. Amblyopia (lazy eye)
  13. Blepharitis
  14. Uveitis
  15. Strabismus (crossed eyes)

Different Eye Problems Symptoms

Certain eye conditions and illnesses could have similar symptoms, but others might have distinct indications and symptoms. Here’s a description of the symptoms of eye diseases list given above:

Eye Conditions Possible Eye Problems Symptoms
Cataracts cloudy or blurred vision, faded colours, glare, and difficulty seeing at night.
Diabetic retinopathy blurred vision, floaters, fluctuating vision, dark or empty areas in vision, and impaired colour vision.
Glaucoma Often asymptomatic in the early stages; gradual peripheral vision loss, tunnel vision, eye pain, headache, and halos around lights.
AMD blurred or distorted central vision, difficulty reading or recognizing faces, and dark or empty areas in the central vision
Retinal detachment Sudden onset of floaters, flashes of light, and a curtain-like shadow over the visual field.
Conjunctivitis Redness, itchiness, water or discharge, gritty feeling in the eyes, and sensitivity to light.
Dry eye syndrome Stinging or burning sensation, redness, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, and fluctuating vision.
Refractive errors Blurry vision, difficulty seeing at night, eye strain, and headaches.
Floaters and flashes Spots, cobwebs, or specks that float in the field of vision, and flashes of light.
Retinitis pigmentosa Difficulty seeing at night, loss of peripheral vision, and tunnel vision.
Keratoconus Distorted vision, sensitivity to light, and frequent changes in eyeglass prescription.
Amblyopia Reduced vision in one eye, poor depth perception, and misaligned eyes
Blepharitis Red, swollen eyelids, itching, burning, crusty eyelashes, and blurred vision.
Strabismus Misaligned eyes, double vision, and difficulty focusing.
Uveitis Eye pain, redness, blurred vision, light sensitivity, and floaters.

Even if certain eye problems symptoms could coexist, seeing an eye care specialist for a precise diagnosis and the best course of action is crucial.

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