A 52-year-old professor of history woke up one morning and found that he could not read. He rushed to an ophthalmologist, where the professor could make out e, a, r, t and h as letters, but could not comprehend the word “earth”— a classical case of ‘word blindness’. The ophthalmologist gave him some medicines, but his condition continued to worsen. He went to a second doctor, with the same results. Finally, a CT scan revealed a clot in the region of the brain used to form letters into words.
Alarmed at the level of ignorance among a large section of ophthalmologists about neurological problems that are often treated as innocuous eye problems, the Ophthalmological Society of West Bengal (OSW) has taken it upon itself to train eye specialists “to prevent neuro-ophthalmological cases from being wrongly diagnosed and treated”.
Come Sunday, and over 150 ophthalmologists of the city will sit together with neurologists, neurosurgeons, and radiologists to understand more about the specialised subject of neuro-ophthalmology. “This is the first such orientation programme organised by us. The neurological origin of patients with complaints of eye problems should be explored more before deciding on the course of treatment. Our focus will be to make them (ophthalmologists) understand better management of these patients,” says Supratik Sanatani, joint secretary of OSW and convener of the training programme.
The eye specialists will be taught all about neuro-ophthalmological diseases through live surgeries, slide shows, lectures and interactive sessions. Eye surgeon and Disha eye hospital founder Debasish Bhattacharya admits that neuro-ophthalmology is a specialised subject that needs to be explored more.
Neurologists confirm receiving patients being treated with eye drops or prescribed glasses for poor vision or blurred vision, only to learn much later that they suffered from neurological problems. “We do get patients with discomfort in the eye caused by a brain tumour, but mistaken as poor vision. They often come to us after a long stint of unsuccessful ophthalmological treatment,” says Milind Deogaonkar, head of department (neurosurgery), National Neurosciences Centre in Calcutta.
Neurosurgeon Ajay Agarwal says orientation programmes like the one to be held here for the first time this weekend should help reduce treatment trouble. More such programmes will be held throughout the year, assured Sanatani.