Pathetic Story Of Family Of Four Graduates Plagued By Blindness


Punch Newspaper writes about the predicament of the four siblings who were struck by ‘mysterious’ blindness that left them in a world of uncertainty

At noon on May 6, 32-year-old Jonathan Echefu was resting in his mother’s old room but his thoughts were detectable a mile away.

He adjusted his seat as tried to switch positions.

Traveling from Lagos State to Abia State to visit his mother after a long while seemed like a long journey but the warm presence of his 65-year-old mother made it all worth it. Besides, it had been a rough 20 years for him and his family.

Jonathan and his family are originally from Ebonyi. However, a series of incidents eventually made the family leave their hometown and sojourn to another land with the hope of safety and a better future.

Jonathan, who said he could not remember the year he went blind, said he noticed one morning that he could not see. Unable to determine what exactly could be wrong, his mind began to play every possible scenario in his head. Sadly, one thought that continued to torment the distraught young man was that he had gone blind.

Narrating his story , the 32-year-old said his vision became whitish as he struggled to stay on his feet. He said he was so overwhelmed by the shock that he staggered, ran out, and shouted for help.

Jonathan said he feared his life would change if he lost his ability to see. He was right. His life did change from that point onwards.

 “The problem started when I was in secondary school. At that time, I was about to enter Senior Secondary School. I was in school one day when I noticed that I could not see. Everywhere was white. People had to take me home.

“I was heartbroken because I could not go outside to play with my friends or socialise with people. I liked to play football and my friends used to call on me to play. I had to lie to them that I was sick but eventually, they got to know that I had become blind. My secondary school education became difficult,” he said.

Jonathan claimed that he was denied admission twice due to his inability to see, but later got into a university after switching his choices before his third attempt at the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination.

 “After that, I wanted to attend a higher institution to further my education. I took the UTME thrice before I finally gained admission. It was not that I did not make the cut-off. I even scored above 200, but the university I applied to did not give me admission. It was when I switched to the University of Calabar in Cross River State that I eventually got admission to study Political Science.”

But the journey to the university was a torturous one, said Jonathan with a deep breath.

“It was not easy for me at the university at all. If a lecture started at 9 am, I had to be prepared long before so that I could stand somewhere where I could find someone who would help me in the lecture hall. It was worse whenever the venue for the lecture changed as finding students who would help me back to where I was staying was also difficult.

“Some of them were too proud to associate with me. Sometimes, when I asked any of them to help me, they questioned my interest in education and asked why I was in school. Some advised me to return home because of my condition. It was not easy,” he added.

Medical experts agree that the sense of sight is essential in every facet of human life, yet often overlooked until it is compromised. According to them, eye conditions are inevitable, requiring timely care to prevent serious consequences.

The experts also noted that while conditions like cataracts received significant attention, issues such as dry eye or conjunctivitis should not be underestimated as they were common reasons for seeking eye care.

The World Health Organisation, in a 2023 report on blindness and vision impairment, said, at least 2.2 billion people have a near or distance vision impairment globally. It said in at least one billion of these, vision impairment could have been prevented or had yet to be addressed.

According to the international health body, the leading causes of vision impairment and blindness at a global level are refractive errors and cataracts.

“It is estimated that globally only 36 per cent of people with a distance vision impairment due to refractive error and only 17 per cent of people with vision impairment due to cataracts have received access to an appropriate intervention. Vision impairment poses an enormous global financial burden, with the annual global cost of productivity estimated to be $411bn,” it added.

Four blind siblings

Jonathan was not alone in this predicament as three of his siblings – Ruth, Samson, and Anderson – are also blind and lost their sight while in secondary school, a situation he said could not be understood at several hospitals they visited. The other two can see but not very clearly as they also suffer from one eye condition or the other.

The 32-year-old said, “I am not the only one who is blind in my family. I have five siblings but four of us are blind. It happened to each of us while we were in secondary school.

“We went to many hospitals and they told us that they did not discover anything. My elder sister, who is the first child in the family, and my younger brother went for operations back when they started but instead of becoming better, their condition became worse.”

Partially blind at seven

Samson, told our correspondent that losing his sight partially at the age of seven exposed him to the ‘dark’ side of life. The 34-year-old graduate wished he had lived a more comfortable life.

“It started in 1999 and I should be six or seven years old then. Before I had the challenge, I had never once complained of having any eye issues. On the day it happened, I came out that day and discovered that I could not see clearly with my left eye. I was living with my uncle who was a medical doctor then. I complained to him, and he took me to the hospital, but it was in that same year that I completely lost that eye.



Chris Kehinde Nwandu is the Editor In Chief of CKNNEWS || He is a Law graduate and an Alumnus of Lagos State University, Lead City University Ibadan and Nigerian Institute Of Journalism || With over 2 decades practice in Journalism, PR and Advertising, he is a member of several Professional bodies within and outside Nigeria || Member: Institute Of Chartered Arbitrators ( UK ) || Member : Institute of Chartered Mediators And Conciliation || Member : Nigerian Institute Of Public Relations || Member : Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria || Fellow : Institute of Personality Development And Customer Relationship Management || Member and Chairman Board Of Trustees: Guild Of Professional Bloggers of Nigeria

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