Glaucoma care fraught with many challenges

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By Sade Oguntola


An ophthalmologist, Professor Affiong Ibanga, has said that glaucoma care in Nigeria is fraught with many challenges and requires a multifaceted approach to ensure respite from glaucoma, the leading cause of irreversible blindness affecting one in 20 persons above the age of 40 in Nigeria.

Professor Ibanga said this in an inaugural lecture she delivered at the inauguration of the Odutola-Olurin Professorial Chair of Glaucoma Care Research in conjunction with Babcock University, Ilisan-Remo, and the launch of the Oyinade Glaucoma Auction (OGA) programme at the Eleta Eye Institute in Ibadan.

She stated that glaucoma is a complex disease that requires personalised care because each patient is different and the home environment and locality are different.

Ibanga, a glaucoma specialist at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, declared that the disease still has many unanswered questions that affect individuals’ lives, causing visual impairment, limited mobility and social interactions, decreased independence, low self-esteem, and a lower quality of life.

According to her, challenges in glaucoma care and research, among others, include affected individuals reporting late to the hospital, insufficient resources like skilled professionals and medicines, and inadequate infrastructure, as well as a poor health information system and funding for research and research infrastructure.

“There are many questions unanswered about glaucoma: what is the cure, how does it happen, what is the best treatment modality for it in our environment, and what is the best way to detect glaucoma? We don’t know all of these.

“So, the Odutola-Olurin Professorial Chair of Glaucoma Care Research is about placing a high premium on vision. The challenges of glaucoma are enormous, and this centre hopes to contribute to the standard of care for glaucoma. We know that without research, that standard of care cannot happen.”

The Vice Chancellor of Babcock University, Professor Ademola Tayo, represented by the Provost of the University’s Benjamin Carson College of Health Science, Professor John Sotunsa, said that the Professorial Chair in Glaucoma Care is meant to make sure that the two institutions work together through research to develop in-house solutions for glaucoma and its associated challenges.

Chairman of Eleta Eye Foundation, Dr Gboyega Ajayi, remarked on the occasion that OGA was an innovative fundraising auction for bidders to donate towards glaucoma care and research and was inspired by Oyinade Odutola-Olurin, an icon in the field of glaucoma.

According to him, generous donors to the partnership to eliminate visual loss and impairment due to glaucoma will have the opportunity to leave a legacy by having research activities, outcomes, physical facilities, and so on named after them or their nominees.

Earlier, the Group Medical Director of Eleta Eye Institute, Professor Charles Bekibele, said the institution’s dream of providing services to the blind and visually impaired through cutting-edge research and excellent services and training of eye care workers led to the establishment of the Professorial Chair in Glaucoma Care in honour of Professor Oyinda Odutola-Olurin.

Chairman of the occasion and Chairman of Eko Hospital, Chief (Dr) Sonny Kuku, described Eleta Eye Institute as an example of philanthropy and the cooperation between town and gown to bring tertiary eye care to Nigerians even as they pay very little.

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