Heritage (Monrovia)

Liberia: More Liberians May Go Blind If...

A Liberian, Gambia-trained eye surgeon, Mr. Robert F. Dolo, has warned that if citizens of Liberia fail to seek proper eye care on a regular basis, many may go blind.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the prevalence of blindness in Liberia is estimated at 1 per cent with about 35,000 afflicted citizens. Cataracts are a leading cause of blindness in Liberia. More than 17,000 people have lost their sight to the condition. Additionally, 3 per cent of the total population suffers from visual impairment.

The American relief group Merci Ship says nearly 80 per cent of cases of blindness in Liberia are preventable or treatable. A growing number of such cases, Merci Ship says, are children who are suffering from a lack of good nutrition and access to healthcare.

Speaking with the Heritage in an exclusive interview Thursday, August 9, 2012, at his New Sight Eye Center on the S.D. Cooper Road, Paynesville, outside Monrovia, the eye surgeon urged Liberians "to be conscious about the health of their eyes," adding that: "even if their eyes are quiet, they should make sure to regularly examine their eyes."

He warned Liberians to desist from using traditional herb and medications that contain steroids in their eyes, adding that these are the common causes of cataract eye disease. Glaucoma, the doctor said, is the second leading cause of blindness in Liberia. This disease damages the optic nerve and raises the eye pressure.

While cataracts are treatable, once glaucoma causes the eye pressure to shoot up, the eye goes permanently blind.

But he was quick to note that glaucoma attack on the eye is preventable. "This is why it is advisable for ones' eyes to be checked by eye surgeons frequently."

He divulged that blind cases are mostly prevalent in rural Liberia, where there is little or no access to proper eye care. He disclosed that his group, the New Sight Eye Center, which he stated was set up to mostly care for rural dwellers, will shortly visit Todee, rural Montserrado County, to provide free eye operations for those at risk of blindness in that part of the country.

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