Use of expired medicines and conduct of an eye camp by inexperienced surgeons at a private hospital led to at least 8 people losing their sight at Perambalur in central Tamil Nadu, official sources said on Sunday after preliminary investigations.
The official revelation came after angry relatives of some 25 people, who complained of blindness after their cataract surgery at a private hospital, blocked traffic at Perambalur, the police said.
Two of the victims told reporters in Tiruchirappalli, 25 km from Perambalur, that they have lost their eyesight and doctors are attending to them now.
"I have turned completely blind and will commit suicide if I get a chance. Not only am I not able to see anything, the irritation in the eyes is killing me," said M. Yashoda, a 73-year-old woman who underwent the surgery at the hospital.
"We are poor people with little political backing. The hospital expressed helplessness by claiming an error in the packing of the medicines used when I complained of blindness after the cataract operation," said N. Ramaswamy, 61.
Of the 55 people operated upon July 29, 25 said they had lost their sight. Relatives of some victims have lodged a police complaint.
The charges have been denied by the Joseph Eye Hospital, which conducted the surgeries.
"Only six people complained of total blindness, which we are attending to. Others suffering from irritation are also being attended to and are responding favourably," hospital spokesperson S. Akhila said by telephone from Tiruchirappalli.
Situated some 275 km south of Chennai, Perambalur is a backward district with few industries and job opportunities.
Its land has turned barren due to absence of rains and drying up of the water table, leading to near total failure of agricultural vocations, officials said.