Cataract is an eye ailment that falls under curable blindness and is most prevalent under this category. The Optomatician from Aditya Jyot Foundation, who has been organizing camps regularly in the community said “Cataract is one of the eye ailment which comes under Curable Blindness. It is the most common cause under Curable Blindness. This is a very prevalent condition among old age due to degeneration process and leads to dimness of vision or partial blindness and ultimately a full blown mature Cataract can cause complete Blindness. This can be cured surgically with replacement of eye lens and patient can get back the vision lost due to Cataract.”
Dr. Nirmal Ahuja, Unit Head Health explains how the screening and operations are conducted, “We at Mumbai Smiles conduct various Eye Screening camps in our project areas. In these camps, patients are screened for different eye ailments such as Cataract, Refractive Errors, Diabetic Retinopathy etc. Majority of them are in their old age and have vision problems. Before the camp, Mumbai Smiles distributes pamphlets among the community members. These pamphlets contain information on Cataract and its cure. Post the screening, patients are counseled and convinced to go for surgery. After the surgery, we follow up with them regularly so that they adhere to the treatment. These surgery camps are organized in collaboration with Aditya Jyot Foundation.”
Recently, in the month of November 2014, 5 of our patients underwent cataract surgeries at Aditya Jyot Hospital. These beneficiaries were detected with cataract at our Diabetic Retinopathy and Eye checkup camp that was organized at Kanjurmarg on 9th September 2014. A second round of investigation was carried out in the month of October and finally these patients underwent surgery in the month of December. Precaution and medicines have been given to these patients and their next follow up is due soon.
Patients are grateful to Mumbai Smiles for conducting such surgeries free of cost. They are now able to feel the world once again through their improved visions. One of the patients, Shobha Nile, shared her thoughts as under:
“I hope Mumbai Smiles continues to organize such eye camps in future too. It’s very beneficial for people such as me who are the only earning member in their families.”
However a restricting factor in this process is the involvement of the community members. Often due to lack of awareness about the disease or its curability, community members withdraw from the treatment. Program Officer for the Eye and Health Care Project, Supriya explains that “People often don’t understand the seriousness of the disease. They either delay the diagnosis or the operation and exacerbate the disease. At Mumbai Smiles we have had a record of so many successful cataract surgeries. We have now started focusing on awareness activities to reach out to them.”