The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Blindness cloud after cataract surgery

Chennai, Jan. 31: Forty-seven cataract patients from Theni district in Tamil Nadu, who underwent surgery at a local government hospital on January 27, are not sure they will get back their eyesight.

The patients from the rural belt of Periyakulam and Theni in the district have caught a serious infection and have been moved to the Rajaji Government Hospital in Madurai.

Official sources from Theni said the day after the surgery and ocular implants at Periyakulam hospital, most of the 47 patients started complaining of severe pain and irritation in their eyes. The infection was noticed when the bandages were opened and all 47 were rushed to the bigger hospital in Madurai.

Theni district has a good record under the World Bank-aided blindness eradication programme in the state and this development has come as a severe jolt.

Many of the affected patients said they were unable to see anything after the operation. But the dean of the Madurai hospital, contacted over phone, said “they were being taken utmost care of in the intensive care unit”.

Refusing to reveal whether these patients had turned blind, the dean said: “Thirty-four of the patients are actually getting better”. Only about 10 others had severe infection, he added.

Antibiotics were being administered and the final word could not be said now, the dean said.

Because of the intensity of the infection, doctors attending to the victims were not able to see the condition of their eyes yet, said the dean. The cause of the infection was being investigated as the authorities awaited the “culture test” report which would take up to two days, he added.

It is learnt that the intra-ocular implants were done on the patients at the Periyakulam hospital by doctors from the government hospital in Madurai, though no official confirmation was available.

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