A Benin-based optometrist, Dr. Ozor Ibhade, has warned that excessive smoking and drinking are likely to cause visual impairment in humans.
Ibhade said on Monday in Benin that about 253 people in the world had visual impairment out of which 36 million of them were actually blind.
She said, “Many people suffer from visual impairment as a result of ignorance of the ways and methods of taking care of their eyes.”
She explained that the eye, being one of the sensitive organs of the human body, needs to be given special attention.
The expert listed some of the causes of visual impairment to include excessive smoking, drinking habits, and inherited genes.
The optometrist explained, “In spite of these factors, one can still prevent becoming visually impaired if you know who to take care of your sight.
“Most people do not know how to take care of their sights until it is too late to do anything.
“The sun rays or radiation, for instance, is harmful to the eyes. But you can wear cold sunglasses and other protective sun shades depending on your nature of job, to control the rays and protect the eyes.
“Some of the many ways to avoid eye disease is to first know your family health history, engage in regular exercise, control of diabetics and high cholesterol.
“People are also advised to avoid looking straight at the sun rays, avoid smoking and heavy drinking habit.
“Regular contact with sun rays causes catarrh while smoking causes macula regeneration. Glaucoma, being a hereditary eye disease, does not give any sign before the sufferer can go blind’’.
According to Ibhade, WHO statistics shows that about 253 million people globally have visual impairment out of which 36 million of them are actually blind.
“For people leaving with visual impairment, between 80 per cent and 81 per cent either have an uncorrected refractive error or unoperated catarrh.
“Statistics have also shown that people in the rural areas or low income are susceptible to visual impairment,” she said.
The optometrist said that for any human to live a better life, that person must have healthy eyes, being one of the body organs that interpret messages sent to the brain.
“We need to increase sight awareness because many people move about without knowing their sight status.
“Many people also leave with the belief or notion that they are blind. But what they only need is corrective surgery for the refractive error or unoperated catarrah,’’ Ibhade said.
She said that lack of awareness and knowledge of what to do was the reason they either “become blind or suffer one form of visual impairment’’.
The physician urged governments at all levels to pay more attention to eye care, saying “governments usually pay attention to general healthcare to the detriment of eye care.
“This needs to be corrected as the eye is too sensitive an organ to be neglected either by individuals or government health institutions,” she said.