After years of battling what seemed like ‘ordinary’ eye issues, 26-year-old Lillian Oluwaseun woke up one morning to discover that she was blind.
The final year student of Psychology at the University of Nigeria, Nssuka, Enugu State, is the first of three children, and she lost her sight to glaucoma in 2009 when she was 14.
The medical interventions to salvage the situation didn’t works, as experts say that glaucoma cannot be cured, though it could be stopped from progressing if detected early.
“It usually develops slowly and can take 15 years for untreated early-onset glaucoma to develop into blindness,” experts say; and, based on Lillian’s experience, that was exactly happened.
How it all started
Her story dated back to 2009.Lillian recalled that when her sight started failing, her parents thought it could be remedied with simple medical intervention and glasses.
“I had good eyesight and usually sat at the back of the class.Towards the end of my first term in senior secondary school, I noticed that I couldn’t see things that were far or written on the board.
“After moving to the front of the class, I still wasn’t seeing and I started straining my eyes to read.
“It started affecting my writing and with time, my grades dropped drastically. I moved from being an A student to average,” Lillian narrates.
Her dwindling grades caused her school’s authorities to invite her parents, during which they were told that her eyes needed to be checked by a specialist.
“It dawned on my parents that the situation was out of control when my mother wanted to give me something and I found it difficult to see her hand or, sometimes, I could not locate where she was sitting in a familiar setting such as the house,” Lillian says.
Neglected corrective surgery
An optometrist attended to then teenage Lillian and she was given a pair of glasses to enhance her sight. But the situation wasn’t helped.
Her father took her back to the optometrist to complain about the development.
She explains, “We were surprised when the optometrist said she noticed ‘something’ at the back of my eyes during our first visit, but that she didn’t want to talk about it to avoid scaring us.
“We were referred to a public hospital, but after several attempts to see an eye specialist failed, we opted for a private hospital.
“I had several eye examinations, after which the ophthalmologist diagnosed Advanced Juvenile Closed-Angle Glaucoma
“She told my father that a surgery must be done on my eyes urgently and referred us to a foundation in Ogun State.
“I didn’t undergo the surgery because we were relocating to Ghana. I was just placed on eye drops.”
According to the World Health Organisation, glaucoma is the second leading cause of visual loss and blindness in the world, followed by cataract.
The WHO estimates that 105 million people are glaucoma suspects, and about 13.5 million people over age 40 have Primary Open Angle Glaucoma, POAG, which constitutes 60 per cent of the total burden of the disease.
“Globally, six million people (26.6 percent) have Primary Angle Closure Glaucoma, PACG; 300,000 children (1.3 percent have congenital glaucoma; and 2.7 million individuals (12.1 percent) are affected with secondary glaucoma.
“Globally, approximately 70 per cent of Primary Open Angle Glaucoma cases belong in developing countries,” the WHO stated.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology defined glaucoma as a disease that damages the optic nerves — a bundle of nerve fibres that connects the retina with the brain.
The organisation explained that it happens when fluid builds up in the front part of the eye, increasing pressure in the eye and damaging the optic nerve in the process, leading to loss of vision.
And though glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness for people over 60 years old, blindness from the condition can often be prevented with early treatment, experts say.
Lady: Lillian Oluwaseun
Source: Punch news