Optometrist advises people with sickle cell diseases


An optometrist, Dr Chika Okereke, has advised people with sickle cell disease to have periodic eye examinations to look for possible damage to the retina.
Okereke, who works with Primrose Eye Care and Optometry Clinic, gave this advice on Friday in Ibadan, Oyo State.
According to her, retina damage or retinopathy occurs when red blood cells get stuck in blood vessels in the retina, and consequently causing the tissue to become ischemic.
“When sickle red blood cells get trapped in the small blood vessels in the retina, the trapped cells can cause damage to the blood vessels in the eye.
“Trapped cells in the retina can cause a decrease in blood flow or bleeding in the eye.
“The bleeding leads to damage of the retina and may cause the retina to detach, and this may lead to eventual blindness,” she said.
Okereke said that retinopathy might not show any symptoms in the early stage but intermittent pain in the eye was a possible sign.
“However, when it becomes worse, sudden vision loss or blurred vision can occur.
“Dark shadows and flashes, which are called floaters in some parts of the vision is also a possible sign of sickle retinopathy,” she said.
The optometrist advised people with sickle cell disease to have their eyes checked every year to look for damage to the retina.
She said that if damage to the retina is discovered early, treatment could be offered to prevent further vision loss.
“People with sickle cell disease should have their eyes checked every year to avoid visual impairment and any other complications.
“Vision loss, including blindness, can occur when blood vessels in the eye become blocked with sickle cells and the retina gets damaged.
“Also someone with sickle cell should also maintain healthy lifestyle including drinking plenty of water for effective management of the disease,” she said.


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