At least 11 go blind in India after cataract surgery

Authorities ordered an investigation Friday after at least 11 poor and elderly people went blind following cataract surgeries performed at a free medical camp run by a charity in northern India.
Indian patients Gurbachan Singh, left, Sampuran Kaur, centre. and Pooro Kaur, who lost their eyesight after undergoing surgery at an eye camp, show their damaged eyes at a government hospital in Amritsar. Narinder Nanu / AFP Photo
Indian patients Gurbachan Singh, left, Sampuran Kaur, centre. and Pooro Kaur, who lost their eyesight after undergoing surgery at an eye camp, show their damaged eyes at a government hospital in Amritsar. Narinder Nanu / AFP Photo

NEW DELHI // Authorities ordered an investigation Friday after at least 11 poor and elderly people went blind following cataract surgeries performed at a free medical camp run by a charity in northern India.

The operations were performed November 4 on dozens of patients over 50 from both Amritsar and nearby Gurdaspur, in Punjab state, said Ravi Bhagat, an official in Amritsar city.

Some of the patients reported this week that they had lost their eyesight or were suffering infections, Mr Bhagat said.

Doctors in Amritsar are treating some of the patients. Police have launched an investigation, and detained at least one doctor in Gurdaspur.

Every year, thousands of people, especially in rural areas without proper health facilities, undergo cataract operations in medical camps held by health authorities and welfare groups.

The case once again highlighted the perilous state of healthcare in India, where hundreds of millions of poor people without access to doctors or health insurance are forced to seek treatment at medical camps because of poor services and corruption at government hospitals.

Last month, 13 women died after allegedly taking tainted drugs after undergoing simple sterilisation surgeries in the central state of Chhattisgarh.

* Associated Press

Published: December 5, 2014 04:00 AM

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