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World Keratoconus Day: All about the eye condition that could lead to permanent vision loss

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World Keratoconus Day: Keratoconus is a rare degenerative eye condition where the dome-shaped outer lens of the eye called cornea becomes cone-shaped because of thinning due to this progressive, degenerative disorder.

It can lead to vision distortion and if left untreated for a long time, it can also cause permanent blindness.

 

Recently, late actor Puneeth Rajkumar’s cornea was donated to four patients out of which two suffered from Keratoconus.

 

Although two corneas from a donor are usually transplanted into two corneal blind patients; but in case of actor Puneeth Rajkumar, his corneas were sliced into four parts and went to four different patients.

 

 

World Keratoconus Day is observed annually on November 10 to spread awareness about this rare eye condition.

 

“Keratoconus usually occurs during the teenage years however, it can also start in the childhood years. In this condition, the cornea shape changes over many years but the change is more rapid in younger patients,” says Dr. Aarti Heda, Consultant Ophthalmologist (Pune) & Medical Consultant of Entod Pharmaceuticals.

 

She also talks about the symptoms and treatment of the eye condition in detail.

 

What is Keratoconus?

The outer lens of the eye, the cornea is dome-shaped like a ball. When the structure of the cornea is not strong enough, it bulges outward and this condition is known as keratoconus.

 

“There are tiny protein fibres in the eye known as collagen that keep the cornea in place. When the fibres become weak, the cornea starts to lose its shape and adopts a shape similar to that of a cone,” says Dr Heda.

 

Symptoms of Keratoconus

As the shape of the cornea changes to a cone in this condition, the front expands which makes vision near-sighted. Objects that are far away appear blurred, according to the eye expert.

 

The common symptoms associated with keratoconus are:

* Double vision on viewing with one eye

• Light streaks

Blurry vision

• Bright lights seem to have halos around them

 

How Keratoconus could lead to blindness

If not treated on time, the eye condition can have several side-effects. While some may experience pain in the eyes, in rare cases, people may lose their vision permanently.

 

“The other side effect of keratoconus is corneal scarring which makes it difficult for patients to wear contact lenses. Eyeglasses also prove to be of little help in such scenarios,” says Dr Heda.

ALSO READ: 5 truths about protecting your eyes

 

 

Treatment of Keratoconus

The treatment of keratoconus usually depends on the progression and stage of the disorder. During the early stages, nearsightedness and blurry vision can be tackled to some extent with prescription eyewear. An ophthalmologist can suggest different options or procedures to treat the condition, some of which are:

 

 

Soft Contact Lenses or Eyeglasses: In the case of mild keratoconus, soft contact lenses or prescription eyeglasses can correct distorted and blurry vision. While contact lenses and glasses cannot stop the progression of the keratoconus, it is crucial to get the eyes checked on a timely basis to take care of the changing vision.

 

Specialised Lenses: Hybrid lenses are soft on the outer ring and hard in the middle and are often recommended for keratoconus. Apart from that, scleral lenses are also recommended that go over the cornea without touching it. Such lenses are beneficial in treating vision issues related to this disorder.

 

Intacs: Intacs are corneal implants, surgically placed into the eyes to reshape and flatten the cornea. They are used for treating myopia and astigmatism related to keratoconus.

 

Collagen cross-linking: In this procedure, eye drops are used along with a special ultraviolet light to make the cornea stronger and keep it from bulging forward.

 

Corneal Transplant: In advanced cases of keratoconus where the cornea is severely damaged, a transplant surgery to replace the affected cornea with a donor cornea is done by an ophthalmologist. The patient may require contact lenses afterwards.

 

 

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COVID-19 LIVE UPDATES | SA's Covid-19 cases climbs towards 20,000 in 24 hours

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09 December 2021 – 06:15 By TimesLIVE

More research is necessary, but there’s a chance the body’s immune response could prove more effective at fighting it.

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PODCAST | Covid-19 pandemic shows Ramaphosa is no crisis president

 

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COVID-19: Nigerian govt reacts as ‘one million’ vaccine doses expire

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Some of the donated vaccines brought into Nigeria on Monday

The Nigerian government has confirmed the report of the expiration of doses of vaccines supplied to the country, blaming the development on the short-shelf lives of the vaccines.

In a statement personally signed by the health minister, Osagie Ehanire, and dated December 8, 2021, the government said the expired vaccines had been withdrawn and will be destroyed by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the country’s agency in charge of drug and foods standards.

The minister, however, failed to confirm the number of the expired vaccines or their brand.

But sources familiar with the vaccine management in Nigeria confirmed to Reuters that the expired doses were of AstraZeneca (AZN.L) brand and delivered via COVAX, the dose-sharing facility led by the GAVI vaccine alliance and the WHO.

Although Reuters reported that 1 million doses have gone to waste, an insider who spoke anonymously Wednesday morning with PREMIUM TIMES for fear of victimisation, said the figures were exaggerated, but confirmed some doses expired in November.

Vaccine expiration

Amidst the biting consequences of vaccine scarcity being experienced in Africa, about one million COVID-19 vaccines are estimated to have expired in Nigeria in November without being used, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

According to WHO, only about four per cent of Nigeria’s estimated 206 million population have been fully vaccinated.

Another source with knowledge of the delivery said some of the doses arrived within four-to-six weeks of expiry and could not be used in time, despite efforts by health authorities.

A count of the expired doses is still underway and an official number is yet to be finalised, the sources said.

“Nigeria is doing everything it can. But it’s struggling with short shelf life vaccines,” one told Reuters. “Now (supply is) unpredictable and they’re sending too much.”

A spokesperson for the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA)- the body responsible for vaccinations in Nigeria- told Reuters, the number of vaccines received and used is still being tallied and it would share its findings in the coming days.

The WHO said doses had expired, but declined to give a figure. It said 800,000 additional doses that had been at risk of expiry in October were all used in time.

“Vaccine wastage is to be expected in any immunisation programme, and in the context of COVID-19 deployment is a global phenomenon,” the WHO said in a statement responding to Reuters’ questions. It said vaccines delivered with “very short” shelf lives were a problem.

Nigeria’s vaccine loss appears to be one of the largest of its kind over such a short time period, even outstripping the total number of vaccines that some other countries in the region have received.

Nigeria not alone

Across Europe, countries including Germany and Switzerland have struggled to maximise the use of doses.

In January, officials in Britain forecast wastage of about 10 per cent of vaccines.

TEXEM

In April, France’s health minister told local media that 25 per cent of AstraZeneca, 20 per cent of Moderna (MRNA.O) and 7 per cent of Pfizer (PFE.N) vaccines were being wasted at the time.

Local vaccine manufacturing best solution – Minister

The minister said the solution to the challenge of vaccine expiration is local manufacturing of vaccines, adding that such belief informed the commitment of the Nigerian government to strengthen partnership with relevant private sectors towards achieving the target.

“This dilemma is not typical to Nigeria, but a situation in which many low- and medium-income countries find themselves,” he said, adding that donation of surplus COVID-19 vaccines with expiring shelf lives to developing countries has been a matter of “international discussion”.

“Nigeria has utilised most of the over 10 million short-shelf-life doses of COVID-19 vaccines so far supplied to us, in good time, and saved N16.4 billion or more than 40 million dollars in foreign exchange,” the minister said

In order to prevent the recurrence of such an event, he said Nigeria needs to produce its own vaccines, so that vaccines produced have at least 12 months to expire.

“This is why the Federal Ministry of Health is collaborating with stakeholders to fast-track establishment of indigenous vaccine manufacturing capacity. This is a goal we are pursuing with dedication,” he said.

Meanwhile, the minister said the ministry had communicated the challenge of short shelf lives and “some manufacturers offered to extend the vaccine shelf life by three months, a practice that, though accepted by experts, is declined by the Federal Ministry of Health, because it is not accommodated in Nigeria’s standards.”

Mr Ehanire noted that Nigeria received vaccine donations “mainly from European countries, who have offered us doses of COVID-19 vaccines out of their stockpiles, free of charge, through COVAX or AVAT facility.”

Additionally, Mr Ehanire said Nigeria accepts these vaccines even with their short shelf life because “they close critical vaccine supply gaps and save scarce foreign exchange procurement costs.”

NIDO kicks

Meanwhile, Nigerian professionals in diaspora have described the hurried shipping of nearly expired doses of vaccines to Africa as a “symptom of vaccine racism”.

The Public Relations Officer, Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) Americas USA, Yinka Tella, said, “It is the same cynical attitude that is driving the selective banning of African countries from Western capitals on account of the Omicron variant which has now been identified in more than 50 countries around the world.”

Berating the country, Mr Tella said Nigeria “does not take itself seriously considering the enormous resources at its disposal.”

“NIDO does not blame the West for how they treat Nigeria… if we are tired, we need to come up with a better paradigm as a people,” he said, adding that; “Nigeria cannot continue to rely on foreign benevolence in virtually all sectors of life.”

Experts speak

Also reacting to the development, Nigeria’s foremost Virologist, Oyewale Tomori, said, “If this is happening, then we are in trouble. We do not have enough and we are wasting.”

“On second thought, the NPHCDA is asking us to come for boosters when we have barely vaccinated five per cent of our population.”

Speculating, Mr Tomori said the fear of losing the vaccine might be the reason why citizens are being invited to take booster shots.

He further urged the NPHCDA to be more transparent about vaccination information like their counterparts in other countries.

He added; “It is a terrible indictment on us as a nation and on the government, if it is true. But we do not need to panic but to strategists on how to utilise what we have left.”

According to Mr Kolawole Oladipo, Head of Department, Microbiology, Adeleke University, Osun State, vaccine wastage is always expected during immunisation due to some factors like the logistics, the shelf-half-life of the vaccines, among others.”

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Victoria Covid-19: Traces of Omicron found at Melbourne Airport as Victoria reports four cases

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BREAKING NEWS: Melbourne airport Omicron alert as Victoria reports FOUR cases of mutant-super variant

Melbourne Airport has been put on alert after traces of the Omicron super variant were found in the wastewater – as Victoria records four suspected cases of the infectious strain. 

Health authorities confirmed three of the four suspected Omicron infections have been out in the community.

Two suspected cases had already been reported on Wednesday but Victoria’s department on health confirmed they were notified of another two on Thursday.

Workers and travellers who visited the city’s airport have now been urged to monitor for symptoms and get tested as soon as they appear, following the two positive detections.

Melbourne Airport has been put on alert after traces of the Omicron super variant were found in the wastewater – as Victoria records four suspected cases of the infectious strain (pictured are returning travellers at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport)

‘The samples from two airport catchments were collected on 1-2 December and are consistent with a known suspected case of the Omicron variant who visited the airport,’ the health department said. 

Authorities say they are speaking with the suspected case and notifying any close or casual contacts.

“A number of contacts have been identified and instructed to quarantine for seven or 14 days based on their vaccination status,’ they said.

‘Other people of lower risk have been instructed to get a test and isolate until they receive a negative result. Further contact tracing work is ongoing and is likely to produce more contacts.’

More to come 

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