At Least 14 People Lose Eyesight After Free Eye Surgery Camp in Punjab

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At Least 14 People Lose Eyesight After Free Eye Surgery Camp in Punjab

14 people lost their eyesight after they underwent eye surgery at a free medical camp. (Press Trust of India)

Amritsar:  At least 14 people have lost their vision after cataract surgery at a free eye camp organized without permission by an NGO in Punjab last month.

While the police have arrested Doctor Vivek Arora of Vidya Eye Care in Jalandhar who performed the botched surgeries, an FIR or police complaint has also been filed against the hospital where the camp was held. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has ordered an inquiry.

The people who were affected are all above 60 and from the village Gago Mahal in Amritsar.

Around 60 people signed up for the eye camp in the Gurdaspur district on November 4. They were given eye drops and asked to report back on November 29 for cataract removal. On removing their bandage, over a dozen said they could not see properly.

The camp is believed to have taken place in "severely unhygienic conditions" with poorly sterilized equipment.

"Some 6-7 people have lost their sight permanently. It will take a week to know whether the sight of the others can be saved," said Amritsar Deputy Commissioner Ravi Bhagat.

Ranjeet Kaur, whose mother Sapuran also had eye surgery, said surgeries were performed through the night and there was no post-operative care. "Patients complained of pain after operation, but doctors did not pay attention," she said.

More people will come for check-up today and officials fear the number of those affected could rise.

"The organisers did not follow rules. They didn't mention what medicines they would use and which doctors would perform the surgeries. We are investigating who the doctors were and whether faulty medicines were used," said Mr Bhagat.

The incident has raised more questions about safety of free medical camps, weeks after 11 women died and 34 more were hospitalised after sterilization surgeries at a government-run family planning camp in Chhattisgarh.

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