KARACHI: While there are about 16.5 million people in Pakistan who are suffering from blindness, about 75 per cent of these are patients who are curable, said doctors from the Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA) at the Karachi Press Club on Thursday.
According to ophthalmologist Dr Shayan Shadmani, majority cases of blindness include cataract patients, which is an age-related disease, and can be easily cured by a ten-minute surgery. After cataract, the most prevalent cause of blindness in the country is glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, hypertension, and hereditary diseases such as hemophilia.
PIMA President Dr Misbahul Aziz announced that the association also plans to establish a state of the art eye hospital. The hospital is expected to be complete within two years and will provide free treatment for complex eye cases. Shadmani added that while the public sector has sufficient facilities and human resource for the patients, they face problems in delivery due to issues such as shortage of funds and lack of equipment. “Sometimes the patients get a date as late as three months at hospitals like the Jinnah Post graduate Medical Centre, Karachi Civil Hospital and Abbasi Shaheed Hospital.”
The doctors also touched upon night blindness, saying that either it is genetic or it occurs due to deficiency of Vitamin A. While the genetic form is incurable, the one caused by the deficiency of Vitamin A can be easily controlled by addressing the deficiency.
The PIMA’s Prevention of Blindness Trust, which started operating in July 2007, has organised 344 camps and 32,554 surgeries in Pakistan till date with the help of 1,046 specialists.
Dr Intezar Husssain Butt pointed out that increase in the use of contact lenses has also increased eye infections and the number of blind people.
PIMA, in association with the Federation of Islamic Medical Associations, also organises camps outside Pakistan in countries where there is a dearth of eye experts. A team of experts, including Dr Misbahul Aziz, Dr Shayan Shadmani, Dr Intezar Husssain Butt and Dr Usman Saeed, are leaving for week-longs visits each to Cameroon and Gambia. They plan to carry out 500 surgeries in each country.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2012.