NEW DELHI (AFP) – Doctors may be able to restore the vision of at least six of the 20 people blinded by botched free cataract surgery in northern India, a government official said on Saturday.
Authorities have suggested poor surgical hygiene may be to blame for the loss of sight after what are normally considered low-risk operations, in the latest scandal to highlight poor medical care in parts of India.
Authorities in India’s Punjab state reported 20 confirmed cases of blindness after a medical charity conducted free cataract operations on 157 people in November in Amritsar.
But now a special team of doctors dispatched from New Delhi and Punjab state capital Chan-digarh say “at least six of the victims could get their normal sight back after special treatment”, senior Punjab state government official Ravi Bhagat told AFP.
Local media reports, however, say the number of people blinded could range from 30 up to as much as 60.
The cases have raised fresh concerns about the hygiene standards in India’s severely stretched healthcare services.
The incident comes just weeks after the deaths of 13 women following sterilisation sur-gery at a camp in central India.
Government officials blamed tainted drugs for the deaths, but an independent report said the women had suffered septicaemia that could have been caused by lack of hygiene.