The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Delay takes toll on eyes
- No succour from Chennai for cataract patients

Guwahati, Oct. 8: Blinded by negligence, they were told that Chennai would offer a ray of hope. But the cloud of reality was too thick for the light to shine through.

Doctors at Sankara Nethralaya have said that the cataract patients from Assam who were sent to Chennai in batches for super-speciality treatment did not stand a chance of recovering vision because of the time that was wasted in deciding to seek their expertise.

The cataract patients contracted a debilitating infection after surgery at a government-organised free eye camp at the Regional Institute of Ophthalmology of Gauhati Medical College Hospital (GMCH). Five of the patients who had been sent to Chennai at government cost returned to Assam on Saturday, while nine more arrived today. All of them lost one eye each.

Dispur had sent 36 patients to Sankara Nethralaya. After a preliminary examination, ophthalmologists informed the government that the prognosis was not good for all but two of the patients.

One of the unlucky patients, Bichitra Deka, said: “I lost vision in my left eye. I had come to the GMCH with great hope, little knowing what lay in store for me.”

For Amirjaan Bibi of Morigaon, the visit to Chennai was a journey of darkness and pain. “I came to Guwahati on September 11 and was operated upon on September 13 at the Regional Institute of Ophthalmology. Two days later, I discovered that I had an infection. Till September 30, I was at the hospital with pain and swelling in my eye. On October 1, I was taken to Chennai, only to hear from doctors that there was no chance of regaining vision,” she said.

Bhaben Haloi, Mohd Musahaq Ali and Ayubur Rahman were among the nine patients who returned today with similar stories. “We are a very poor family. Will the government do something for us'” Ayubur’s son Billal asked.

The son of one of the patients said from Chennai that all seven who were airlifted to Chennai on Saturday had lost vision in one eye. “My father and six others reached Chennai on Saturday. Doctors declared that all seven of them would not regain vision due to the delay in treatment,” Sopin Ahmed told The Telegraph over phone.

One of the two patients who have responded well to treatment at Sankara Nethra-laya is 72-year-old Satyabati Devi.

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