319 undergo cataract surgery

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, April 9:

Three hundred nineteen cataract patients, most of them from poor financial background, had their eyes operated upon at a four-day eye camp organised at the Pullahari Monastery in Kapan.

The Micro-Surgical Sight Restoration Workshop was jointly organised by Tilganga Eye Centre, Ananda Sangh and Pullahari Monastery with support from Nepal Scouts and the Rotary Club of Swoyambu. The patients were chosen after examining their eyesight at camps held in Kavre, Bhaktapur, Dhading, Nuwakot and Lalitpur at different times. Patients from Manang, Dolpa and Solukhumbu districts, too, listed their names for the operation that started on April 6.

The patients, who could neither afford medical expenses nor have access to good ophthalmic surgery in their districts, benefited from the camp. It costs around Rs 10,000 for a cataract surgery. Bhairav Bahadur Gurung, 76, of Solukhumbu, who had his right eye operated, said: “What can be more beautiful than receiving an eyesight free of cost.” Chetrakumari Bista, 64, a resident of Machhegaun, said she could get her eyesight restored because of the free surgery, as she was not able to pay for the same. Senior surgeons Dr Sanduk Ruit, Dr Reeta Gurung, Dr David Chang and Dr Geoff Tabin conducted the surgery.

Dr Ruit said Nepal is ahead in providing eye care to the people. “It has better manpower and infrastructure for eye care compared to other South Asian countries, but there is no proportional distribution of the service. The monastery provided food and lodging to the patients for free while monks and 27 scout volunteers looked after the patients.

The Tilganga Eye Centre conducts 5000 cataract surgeries a year and about 300,000 people are suffering from the ailment. Tilganga’s surgeons have conducted a total of 76 eye camps, examining around 80,000 patients and performing 17,500 cataract surgeries since 1994. Nepal aims to eradicate preventable blindness by 2020. There are altogether 90 eye specialists and 200 eye assistants in 18 hospitals throughout the country at present. “Smoke, ultraviolet rays, malnutrition, glass blowing, genetic cause and fluid loss from the body are the risk factors of cataract,” said Dr Ruit. “Basically it is an ageing process.”