Tuesday, 17 March 2009
DR. Elizabeth Eromosele left the University of Benin in 2003 with a degree in Optometry and a dream to make money and enjoy life with her family, but that dream soon changed, when she was confronted with the plights of people on the verge of going blind; and wallowing in ignorance. To help provide succour, the Optometrist along with some other medical practitioners, started providing free eye screening and consultancy services to the people in her community and its environs. She speaks with OMIKO AWA on her activities and the work of caring of the eyes.
I was born in 1976. I am the first child in a family of five children and a mother of two kids. My parents are from Umuahia, Abia State, but I’m married to a native of Edo State. I had my primary education in Lagos and secondary in Bida, Niger State, before moving on to the University of Benin, where I graduated in 2003, and had worked with various eye clinics and hospitals, as optometrist, before venturing into private practice as the medical director, Vantage Point Eye Clinic, Idimu, Lagos.
Why charity organisations?
I grew up to discover that I had a problem with my right eye, which was as a result of catapult fired at it, which dislodged the muscle; it never had any effect on me until later in life; when the vision on that side became impaired. If my parents had been rich and enlightened enough, they would have sought the right help for me. So, I decided to help provide succour to those in such positions, who cannot afford to pay their hospital bills as a result of their low income and also to enlighten people on the care of the eyes.
What do you hope to achieve with your participation in community service?
I want everyone to have a good eyesight and to enjoy good health. I hope to see a situation, where there will be a holistic free medical care for all. Most of the accidents you see on the roads are often caused by people with poor eyesight.
How do you assess community services?
It is good, but on our own part, it is a sacrifice. It is very good as it enables people, who cannot afford some basic needs to have them. In this country, we don’t have the culture of going for medical check-ups, until the situation has gone out of hand. We enjoy free things; it is until it’s said to be free, will you see people coming for it. It should be encouraged as it makes people, those in pains, the aged and those at the verge of going blind and cannot afford the normal hospital bills to get attention and be treated.
How do you combine your home with your community service and practice?
It’s just by the grace of God and my supportive husband that I have been able to do all you saw me do. Generally, it has not been too easy combining the home with work and my community projects, but since I am on my own, I try to manage my time among other variables. I do bring my children to the office, when they are not in school and my patients do bear with me; with this I am able to move out, to reach out to people in the community.
Some of your laudable projects
We did the eye test of Idimu primary school teachers and other schools within the locality; we have screened the eyesight of the commercial cyclists and given lectures to policemen in Ikotun police station alongside other projects in churches and cooperative societies, among others.
Yes! My regret is that some of those we screen do not always continue with the prescriptions given or come back for treatment; even those we refer to the General Hospitals do not always go; this to a large extent do not help matters, because when you come across them again their situation that ought to have improved would have deteriorated and it is highly demoralising and annoying.
I am always pleased to see people eagerly waiting to hear our lectures and receive treatments. Also, I feel elated each time people we had treated come on their own for follow up. But I will be much happier if the multi-nationals could help us settle the bills for the drugs or provide other logistics that will make the eye screening and treatment exercise totally free.
How many Nigerians are blind or would soon be blind?
There are many blind people, majority of whom are blind in one eye as a result of glaucoma. Unfortunately, most people are not aware that something is wrong with their eyes until it is too late to prevent vision loss and even blindness, as glaucoma has no symptoms and vision loss due to it can never be regained. So, when we screen people, we give them a comprehensive test to know the state of their sight and advice them on what to do. We advice everyone to see the optometrists at least once in every six months, most especially, if you are 40 years and above, and also for people not to expose their eyes to hazards, if your work brings you closer to light, dust or other things that may be injurious to them, try to use the eye goggle. People with history of diabetes or high blood pressure are at risk of having glaucoma outside having the case of blindness in their family.
And for children
Parents and teachers should avoid indiscriminate flogging of the child on the head or face in order not to hit the child in the eyes.
On children with squint (strabismus)
Correction is by muscle training, which can only be done before the child is eight years old, after this age nothing can be done. Myopia (short-sightedness) often progresses in children’s if uncorrected while hyperopia (far-sightedness) tends to let them lose interest in their studies. Astigmatism (visual defect caused by unequal cornea) cause visual fatigue, where the eyes easily get tired. This leads to skipping of lines and blurring of lines, when reading or writing. The child also begins to feel sleepy while reading and would not be able to read for long.
How can we care for the eyes?
Don’t just use any eye drop because you see someone use it, and don’t self medicate or add all manners of concoction or fluid to the eyes; whenever you have problems with your eyes endeavour to see a doctor. Ladies, who use contact lenses should always abide by the rules.
Government cannot do everything, however, it would be better, if it uses the clinics in each community to meet the needs of the people. When you say there is free eye test at the General Hospitals, there will still be people that would be incapacitated to go, but with the community clinics many will surely be reached.