Tamil Nadu

Ophthalmologist says there has been sharp increase in cataract patients

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in people delaying treatment for cataract. As a result, there has been a backlog in the number of persons who need to be treated for the condition, said Srinivasan G. Rao, senior ophthalmologist and regional head, Dr. Agarwal’s Eye Hospital.

Dr. Rao said the hospital had been seeing more patients recently with untreated cataract. “There has been over five-fold increase in the number of cataract cases in the city, especially in the 50-70 age group,” he said.

For every 100 outpatients in a private hospital, 40 to 60 are being diagnosed for cataract. The figure used to be 10 before the pandemic. Dr. Rao attributed this to suspension of screening camps in the pandemic years and fear among patients of contracting the infection while visiting the hospital for treatment.

June is observed as cataract awareness month every year. Sedentary lifestyles during the pandemic, uncontrolled diabetes, blood pressure and other chronic health conditions had resulted in rise in cases. Dr. Rao cited the National Programme for Control of Blindness, according to which only 15 to 20 lakh cataract surgeries were done annually in the country whereas another 50-60 lakh people needed the surgery.

The backlog had increased post-pandemic as people had not sought treatment, he pointed out, calling upon people aged over 40 to get screened for cataract. Blindness due to cataract was reversible but delay could lead to permanent loss of vision, he said at a press meet here on Friday.

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Printable version | Aug 5, 2022 6:06:23 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/ophthalmologist-says-there-has-been-sharp-increase-in-cataract-patients/article65561203.ece