Bharti Kashyap with Latehar patients who were treated last month at Kashyap Memorial Eye Hospital. (Prashant Mitra)
Eight-year-old Sikandar Oraon, a resident of Hundaru village in Latehar district, had started complaining of blurred vision and difficulty in reading when he was only five
Md Wasim Ansari (6) of Mankeri village in Latehar started having eyesight problems from the age of three
Both Sikandar and Md Wasim were diagnosed with cataract in both eyes during a check-up camp organised by Ranchi-based Kashyap Memorial Eye Hospital in association with State Bank of India and Latehar district administration on July 30.
As many as 2,004 people of different age groups were treated at the mega camp, which was also attended by Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh. Out of them, as many as 50 children and 200 adults (aged between 35 and 45) were diagnosed with cataract and about 250 children were treated for other power-related problems and given glasses.
The camp brought to the fore that cases of cataract, one of the main reasons for blindness, was rampant among children and middle-aged people in Naxalite-hit areas that are covered under Ramesh’s Saryu Action Plan in Latehar.
“This is an alarming trend. We have started their treatment in batches. Till date, 10 children have been operated upon in Ranchi in the past few days, while surgeries among adults, who have been diagnosed with cataract, are being conducted on a regular basis,” Bharti Kashyap told The Telegraph.
Ramesh is again expected to visit on August 30 to distribute spectacles among the children in a special function to be organised in Ranchi.
A cataract is a condition in which a cloud-like formation occurs on the eye’s lens. The lens, made mostly of water and protein, is built to let light pass through and focus on the retina. Sometimes protein clumps cloud small areas of the lens, blocking light from the retina.
A perturbed Kashyap said they were more concerned about cataract affecting the youngsters.
“Normally, the most common cause of cataract is age and it leads to blindness. But cataract among children may lead to improper development of the brain vision centre. In cases of childhood cataract (when the disease occurs in those less than eight-year-old), the visual centre in the brain fails to develop. In such cases, even after surgery, their vision remains impaired,” Kashyap added.