Economic Influences On The Prescription Eyeglass Market In Nigeria

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Nigeria is a country with a large population and a high prevalence of eye problems. According to the World Health Organization, about 4.25 million Nigerians are visually impaired and 0.5 million are blind. One of the main causes of visual impairment and blindness in Nigeria is refractive error, which can be corrected by wearing glasses.

However, many Nigerians who need glasses do not have access to them or do not use them. This is due to various economic and social factors that influence their choice of recommended glasses. In this blog post, we will explore some of these factors and how they affect the eye health of Nigerians.


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Economic Factors

One of the major economic factors that influence the choice of recommended glasses in Nigeria is affordability. Glasses are expensive for many Nigerians, especially those who live in rural areas or have low incomes. The average cost of a pair of glasses in Nigeria is about 10,000 naira (about 26 US dollars), which is equivalent to 10% of the monthly minimum wage. Moreover, there are additional costs associated with getting an eye examination, travelling to an optical shop, and maintaining the glasses.

Another economic factor that influences the choice of recommended glasses in Nigeria is availability. There is a shortage of eye care services and facilities in Nigeria, especially in rural areas where about 70% of the population lives. According to a study by Ezelum et al. (2012), there are only 0.8 optometrists per 100,000 people in Nigeria, compared to 8.3 in South Africa and 24.8 in the United Kingdom. Furthermore, there are only about 250 optical shops in Nigeria, most of which are located in urban areas. This means that many Nigerians who need glasses have to travel long distances or wait for long periods to get them.


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Social Factors

One of the major social factors that influence the choice of recommended glasses in Nigeria is awareness. Many Nigerians are not aware of the importance of eye health and the benefits of wearing glasses. They may not know that they have a refractive error or that it can be corrected by glasses. They may also have misconceptions about glasses, such as believing that they are only for old people, that they can worsen their eyesight, or that they are a sign of weakness or inferiority.

Another social factor that influences the choice of recommended glasses in Nigeria is acceptance. Many Nigerians face stigma and discrimination for wearing glasses, especially among children and young adults. They may be teased, bullied, or ostracized by their peers, family members, or community members for wearing glasses. They may also face challenges in finding employment, education, or marriage opportunities because of their glasses. As a result, many Nigerians who need glasses may avoid wearing them or hide them from others.


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Solutions

To overcome these economic and social barriers and promote the use of glasses in Nigeria, some possible solutions can be implemented by various stakeholders, such as the government, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and community members. 

1. The government can subsidize the cost of glasses and eye care services for low-income Nigerians or provide them for free through public health programs. The government can also invest more in building and equipping eye care facilities and training more optometrists and other eye care professionals across the country.

2. The private sector can offer affordable and quality glasses and eye care services to Nigerians through innovative business models, such as mobile clinics, online platforms, or social enterprises. The private sector can also partner with the government and other organizations to reach more customers and create more awareness.

3. Non-governmental organizations can support the provision of glasses and eye care services to Nigerians through donations, grants, or sponsorships. They can also conduct advocacy campaigns and educational programs to raise awareness and acceptance of glasses among Nigerians.

4. The community members can play an important role in encouraging and supporting their fellow Nigerians who need glasses to wear them and access eye care services. They can also share their positive experiences and testimonies with others and dispel myths and stereotypes about glasses.


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Conclusion

The choice of recommended glasses in Nigeria is influenced by various economic and social factors that affect the affordability, availability, awareness, and acceptance of glasses among Nigerians. These factors pose significant barriers to accessing and using glasses for many Nigerians who need them, leading to poor eye health and quality of life. However, some possible solutions can be implemented by various stakeholders to address these factors and promote the use of glasses in Nigeria. Therefore, there is a need for more efforts to address these factors and promote the use of glasses in Nigeria.

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