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8 patients still have critical vision problems

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CAUSE FOR CONCERN: Patients who developed vision problems after cataract surgery at Joseph Eye Hospital in Tiruchi on Sunday.
CAUSE FOR CONCERN: Patients who developed vision problems after cataract surgery at Joseph Eye Hospital in Tiruchi on Sunday.

S. Ganesan

TIRUCHI: Eight of the 29 patients, who have been admitted to Joseph Eye Hospital in Tiruchi with complaints of blurred vision after undergoing cataract surgeries at the institution’s satellite hospital at Perambalur last month, continued to have critical vision problems.

The patients complained of poor vision in one of their eyes that had been operated upon. The condition of nine others admitted to the hospital here was said to be ‘clinically better,’ and 12 others were ‘showing improvement.’

Contamination

The eight patients with critical vision condition were reportedly not responding to treatment. Though infection caused by contamination in the saline solution is suspected to be the cause of the problem, both hospital and Health Department officials said the exact cause could be ascertained only after the results of the microbiological tests on the swabs taken from the satellite hospital were known.

According to hospital sources, 66 persons, who were identified at a special camp at Kaduvanur in Villupuram district on July 28, underwent surgery in the satellite hospital at Perambalur the next day. Eight of them were discharged a day after the surgery without any problems, while the others were discharged a few days later.

Over 50 returned with complaints of severe pain, vomiting and blurred vision during review. Twenty-nine of the patients, including 14 women, were referred to the base hospital in the city on Friday night at the intervention of Perambalur Collector Anil Meshram. The patients hailed from Kaduvanur and the neighbouring hamlets.

M. Ammavasai, a 65-year-old farmer, said he had poor vision in one of the eyes and hence decided to undergo the free surgery.

“I continue to experience pain and am not able to see properly through one of the eyes now. There is nobody to support me and I am desperate to regain my normal vision,” he said.

Swabs collected

A team of doctors from the K.A.P.Viswanatham Government Medical College, Tiruchi, led by N. Balasubramanian, Dean-cum-Special Officer of the Government Medical College to come up at Perambalur, N. Pugazhendi, Head, Department of Ophthalmology, and Dhanapal, Head, Department of Microbiology, conducted a preliminary study at the Perambalur hospital on Saturday, following a directive from Mr.Meshram. The team collected swabs from the operation theatre and surgical instruments and sent them for tests.

On the advice of Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, Health Minister M. R. K. Panneerselvam left for Tiruchi to make enquiries.

A high-level team from the State Blindness Control Society visited the Perambalur hospital on Sunday, while V.Veerapandian, Deputy Director, Health, Tiruchi, conducted enquiries at the hospital here.

Joseph Eye Hospital, one of the major voluntary organisations carrying out free cataract surgeries in the State, performs about 38,000 surgeries on an average every year, hospital authorities said.

Hospital attacked

A group of persons threw stones at the hospital on Sunday, apparently angered over the incident. A few glass panes were damaged. On information, the police rushed to the spot and dispersed the mob. Police pickets have been posted in the area.

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