16 people lose eyesight after cataract surgery at a camp in Punjab

Preliminary findings to be submitted by Friday evening

By Kundan Pandey
Published: Friday 05 December 2014

Representative pic, a free eye camp (Photo courtesy Guru Nanak Charitable Trust)

At least 16 people reportedly lost their eyesight after they underwent cataract surgery at an eye camp in Punjab a month ago. It is feared many others who were operated at the camp may have also lost their eyesight.

A total of 62 people underwent surgery at the camp in Amritsar district on November 4; the 16 who reported loss of eyesight were from Gago Mahal village and the remaining people were from Gurdaspur where the camp was organised by NGO Guru Nanak Charitable Trust, said Rajiv Bhalla, a civil surgeon of Amritsar district.

Unconfirmed reports say many others who attended the camp also lost their eyesight. Bhalla did not deny such a possibility but said that the administration is still to get the list of total patients who went through the surgery. The administration is trying to track all of the people operated in the particular camp.

Talking to DTE over phone, Bhalla said that in the reported cases patients lost their eyesight because of infection. They were operated in completely unhygienic condition.

Bhalla said that from what he had seen in the prescription of patients, two doctors, including one Vijay Arora, who is yet to be located, operated on the patients.

The patients were allowed to go home a day after the surgery; the organisers did not follow the standard procedure neither did they take necessary permission from health department to organise such a camp.

The news about people losing eyesight surfaced on Thursday when the victims approached deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat to lodge a formal complaint against the NGO and doctors at the camp. A probe has been ordered. The preliminary findings are expected to be filed by Friday evening.

Several such incidents have been reported in the recent past.

In 2010, at least 30 people lost their vision after they underwent cataract surgeries conducted by a charitable trust-run hospital at Mandla in Madhya Pradesh. The surgeries were conducted during a period of seven days at various villages of the district by the Yogiraj Hospital and Research Centre under the aegis of the Swami Seetharamji Maharaj Hanuman Ghat Trust.

Similarly in 2012, nine people lost their eyesight after undergoing cataract surgery at a private hospital in Hyderabad.  In Andhra Pradesh, five people had lost their sight after undergoing surgery at a free eye surgery camp in Nandyal town in 2011.

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