At least five persons in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh have lost vision and nine others are battling complications after they underwent cataract surgery at a free eye camp organised by a private hospital on Wednesday.
Most of the victims are from poor families and were attracted to the eye camp because of the free treatment and free medicines promised by the hospital, run by the Church of South India.
District health officials at Kurnool said 33 patients participated in the free eye camp in Nandyal town, 290 km south of Hyderabad, on December 14.
After a few hours, 16 persons complained of severe itching and pain. They came back to the hospital, where doctors noticed severe infection.
“Some of the patients developed post-operation complications and we have referred them to the government hospital of Kurnool and two patients to the Christian Medical College, Vellore,” said Sukumar, chief executive officer at the hospital.
“An improper sterilisation of the instruments and the drugs that were used could have caused this kind of tragedy. We are trying our best but cannot say how many can get back their eyesight,” a doctor at the Government Hospital at Kurnool said.
Chinamma (71) of Venkatanayanipalli village wailed. “Someone in my village told me about the free eye camp and I thought the operation could improve my blurred vision. After the operation, I felt acute pain and could not see anything. Now I am totally blind. Who will take care of me?”
The state government has rushed a senior doctor attached to the National Programme for Control of Blindness to Nandyal to assist the patients. He is expected to report to the government on Friday.