Accra, Ghana//-“I was inspired to become an optometrist cum eye health educator because of my childhood experience and the challenges I had to face due to my unknown eye condition”.
“I struggled through my childhood and early adulthood with an eye condition unknown to me that partially affected my academic performance”, Dr Chioma Mary, a Nigerian-trained optometrist and eye health educator narrated why she is so passionate about eye care to African Eye Report in an interview.
“It was discovered during one of the clinical practices in my pre-medical school. During my secondary school years, I had to struggle in class to see what was written on a board”.
But she was able to manage through with the unknown eye condition. Later on, the young Mary devised a means to help her situation. She resolved to always sit at the front of the class throughout her later days in school.
Today, Dr Chioma Mary is a strong campaigner against eye diseases, blindness and a vivid voice for eye health in Nigeria, Togo, and Africa at large.
In Africa, most leading causes of blindness and visual impairment are preventable or avoidable and this is due to poor eye health practices among the population and lack of accessible information on eye health-related issues, according to her. “My profession was an eye-opener for me on the poor eye health behaviour in my country and Africa.
I believe that through my eye health education I can create and build more awareness of the negative impact of most eye conditions on the socio-economic status of the population and promote safe eye health practices and quality eye care in the population of Nigeria, Togo, and Africa at large”.
Eye healthcare education initiatives Dr Mary revealed that she has few initiatives in the pipeline which are in line with her vision and goals of improving eye care in Africa which would be unveiled at the appropriate time.
But currently, she does her eye health education campaign on social media. She has dedicated part of her time to broadcast eye health education to her numerous followers on LinkedIn, Facebook, among others.
Dr Mary who works in a leading eye hospital in Lome, Togo, believe she can contribute immensely in changing poor eye health behaviour and promoting quality eye care by addressing and educating the public through social media platforms on safe eye health practices and by creating more awareness on the preventable or avoidable causes of blindness and visual impairment in Africa.
“I am striving to contribute my quota in improving eye care in Africa in any way possible by being an eye health educator, however eye care in Africa still requires strong advocacy programmes, and crucial actions and steps must be taken to increase the eye health workforce and reduce the prevalence of avoidable vision impairment and blindness in Africa”.
Dr Mary hopes to be recognized as a doctor who played a role in every little way possible in reducing the causes of preventable or avoidable blindness in Nigeria, Togo, and Africa.
“For me, I found my passion which is my profession optometry, and knowing I can greatly impact life through my profession has been my biggest motivation. It’s very important, you find your passion and get that one thing that gets you motivated and brings the best out of you”.
For young optometrists, apart from seeing optometry as a profession, they must emanate a passion from it because optometry is not just a profession but a call to duty, a call to restore and save the sight of the visually disabled population, she stressed.
Key to journey of success
As an unbeatable star achiever, she never allows her fears, anxieties, and doubts, deter her from achieving her goals but instead, build her strength from them. The quote that pushes Dr Mary to do more is: “Do it afraid, effort matters more than skills and talent”.
Dr Chioma Mary enjoys discussing and writing on eye health issues and she is also a passionate believer in humanity and a self-development devotee. She tries to break down eye health education into the simplest form for her readers and viewers.
Also, she discusses day to day likely eye conditions they might be overlooking to ensure safer and better preventive eye health practices because prevention will always be better than cure.
By Masahudu Ankiilu Kunateh, African Eye Report