A new Sightsavers initiative, in partnership with Allergan and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), will train eye care professionals to diagnose and treat glaucoma in Nigeria.
During its initial stages, the ‘Keep Sight’ programme aims to train 50 eye care workers, with the goal of screening 5,000 people, treating 500 patients and providing surgery for 70 patients. It is hoped the initiative will expand by 2021 to screen 500,000 people in countries where glaucoma is a particular problem.
Glaucoma is the third most common cause of avoidable blindness worldwide.
Sightsavers CEO Caroline Harper said: “The greatest global needs in eye health today exist in developing countries, where typical barriers include inadequate human resources, poor infrastructure, a lack of awareness and limited access to medical treatments. We are excited to be partnering with Allergan, which has a long heritage in eye care and a shared commitment to drive life-transforming innovations for patients suffering with glaucoma, which is one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness.”
Allergan executive vice-president Marc Princen said: “For almost two decades, Allergan has been committed to developing novel approaches to preserve vision and reverse blindness caused by glaucoma. Keep Sight will make a real difference to people with glaucoma in these underserved populations.”
Joanna Conlon, director of development and communications at IAPB, added: “Glaucoma accounts for between 12% and 16% of blindness in high-income regions, central Asia, parts of Europe and Africa. Glaucoma in Africa is poised to be a significant public health burden in the coming decade. Keep Sight is the kind of solution we need today.”
It is estimated that more than 3 million people are blind because of glaucoma, and the number of people with the condition is likely to rise to about 80 million by 2020.