Providing appropriate medical treatment for childhood cataract in remote tribal regions of India
During a free cataract eye screening camp organised by the Alakh Nayan Mandir Eye Institute in the remote rural village of Kardha, Barwada in Udaipur, Rajasthan, India, we detected a case of a girl aged 3 years with congenital cataract in both eyes. This orphan girl from a tribal area was unable to get proper medical treatment for her blindness.
Her carers resorted to using the services of the local ‘quacks’, who subjected her lower chest and abdomen to red hot iron bars in the belief that this would cure her blindness.
She was escorted to our base hospital for bilateral cataract extraction by phaco-emulsification and IOL implantation under general anaesthesia. Post-operatively she had good vision. She was kept under observation for two weeks in the base hospital, to avoid post-operative infection.
The outcome of this surgery was that, in this particular region, the community became aware that ‘quacks’ should not treat cataract. This has motivated older cataract patients to come for eye surgery despite their earlier reluctance, thinking previously that it is a curse of old age.
Timely and successful intervention with regard to childhood blindness, especially in rural and tribal regions, is the need of the hour. Furthermore, we need to find ways to bridge the gap between the ‘quacks’ response to childhood eye problems, and the urgent medical attention children need.