An Abuja-based ophthalmologist, on Thursday, cautioned against the use of traditional herbal treatments for eye conditions, which he said, might cause blindness.
Dr Charles Omale, the Managing Director, Fortress Eye Hospital and Medical Centre, Zone 1, Abuja, gave this warning in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
According to him, there is no recognised or safe traditional herbal treatment for any eye condition.
He said that traditional eye treatment was one of the leading causes of blindness in Africa, due to its toxic effect on the conjunctiva and the eye cornea.
The expert said that the cornea is the black transparent part of the eye in front of the eye, adding that it is the window through which light enters the eyes, which allows an individual to see.
Omale said that the use of traditional treatments might cause permanent damage to this part of the eye; to cause blindness.
“What is often referred to as traditional eye medication is based on some cultural practices, which are dangerous to the eyes.
“Orthodox medications for the treatment of eye conditions have been carefully manufactured and produced to conform to the natural environment of the eyes without causing any damage to the eye surface.
“It is difficult to establish this comfortable combination, using herbal or traditional materials, hence the need to abstain from their use so as not to cause eye damage.
“Some traditional practices for eye treatment include: squeezing cassava leaves or cassava tubers and applying the liquid to the eyes, use of cow dung, breast milk, palm oil and kerosene.
“These things are available in our environment; so it is easy for people to use them to treat various eye conditions, but they are dangerous practices that must be discouraged.
“People, who engage in these practices may be ignorant of the right methods to use or due to poverty, and cannot afford the orthodox treatment and, therefore, they resort to the available treatment.
“Others may be engaging in these practices because there are no available specialised health facilities near them, where they can receive the necessary treatment,” he said.
Omale said that whatever the reason for choosing traditional treatment for eye conditions, the resultant effect was the same and that is blindness.
He said that when the eye cornea is damaged, it becomes scarred and white, adding that treatment for cornea disease is not easy to achieve due to its peculiar nature.
Omale said that there was, therefore, no guarantee that vision could return. (NAN)