There was excitement last week when nurses from the Opthalmology Department of the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, UNTH, Ituku- Ozalla, carried out free medical eye tests and other related diseases in Nsukka and environs in a bid to alert patients and reduce increasing cases of blindness in the area.
The nurses were first of all transferred from Ituku Ozalla, Enugu, to the UNTH branch at Obukpa, near the main campus of the University of Nigeria, UNN, to enable them carry out the free services to patients.
Leader of the team, Mrs Elizabeth Nnadi, said at St Joseph's Catholic Church, Imufu, Enugu Ezike, in Igbo- Eze North Local Government of Enugu State, where about 166 patients were tested and given referral letters to UNTH, Obukpa, that they had visited markets, churches and other public places to carry out same free services on over 1,500 other patients.
Nnadi, who said she hailed from Aku in Igbo Etiti Local Government Area of the state told South-East Voice that most of the people who were referred for further treatment at UNTH were not even aware that they had such serious illnesses.
"You know the importance of the eyes to human beings. There is a particular boy we examined and discovered that one his eyes was gone.
"His parents were not even aware of the seriousness of the problem. They said that he had problems in the already dead eye about two years ago and if urgent steps are not taken, he will soon become blind.
"You can see the other man there that is almost completely blind. Some of the major causes of blindness is excess sugar in the blood system (diabetes) and high blood pressure. If you have diabetes or excess sugar, the optic nerve will be drawing a lot of sugar to the eye until the nerve is completely destroyed.
"Of course, once this happens, the patient becomes blind because the optic nerve cannot be repaired once it is destroyed. There are so many patients who don't even know that they have high blood pressure.
"The equipment which we used to identify these diseases are not very sophisticated, but when they get to UNTH Obukpa, the doctors there will test them with more sophisticated machines and recommend appropriate treatments, she said.
The Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Rufus Achinike, C.S.SP, also said that he invited the medical team to visit the parish to help parishes get access to cheap medical services because of the poverty level in the country.
Achinike commended the medical team for handling the patients as well as referring them to better equipped hospitals for comprehensive tests and treatment.