Eye care specialist, Dr. Chinedu Njezi, cautions Nigerians seeking free cataract surgeries to be careful of where they get such services.
According to the optometrist, people needing cataract surgeries could end up in the hands of quacks and fakers if they are not cautious about whom is offering these services.
Njezi, who is the medical director of Sight Haven Eye Clinic, said the problem with entertaining these quacks for cataract surgery, especially when it is free, is that such persons could conduct the surgical procedure using an outdated method called couching.
Some organisations, he said, use the archaic couching treatment for cataracts.
“Quacks can do anything in remote areas where monitoring is difficult.
“Some quacks can use the ancient practice called couching to remove cataracts,” he said.
couching basically involves using a sharp instrument, such as a thorn or needle, to pierce the eye at the limbus. The opaque lens would then be dislocated from the central visual axis and pushed down into the vitreous cavity through the pars plana.
The cataract will thus remain in the eye but would no longer be blocking light, therefore, producing an instantaneous improvement in vision.
Njezi, who is the public relations officer of the Nigerian Optometric Association, Abuja chapter, emphasized that couching is now illegal because of the new advancements in the medical world.
More sophisticated methods available for removing cataracts that people should use, Njezi said, are laser surgeries, phacoemulsification and small incision cataract surgeries.
Couching, he explained, can lead to more severe complications.
The optometrist added that couching is a crude method and can lead to secondary glaucoma which in turn can lead to blindness.
Njezi also added that “couching can also lead to capsule rupture when or if performed by untrained personnel or quacks.
“It can lead to endopthalmitis and then panopthalmitis – a condition of secondary infection from the internal structures of the eye to the outer cornea and sclera.
“This will mean the eye globe has to be removed to preserve the life of the patient.”
The optometrist warned patients to be watchful and careful of who is organising the cataract surgery outreach or camp, adding that patients should exercise their bill of rights that empower them to ask medical personnels any question about their qualification or qualifications and the patient’s expected surgical outcomes.
the optometrist said in an Interview, “The problem with free medical outreaches and surgical interventions is the inability to know if the surgeon is a licensed ophthalmologist or a quack.
“That’s the reason we mostly advise people to go to the hospital and if free surgeries must be an option, then know the address of the organisation sponsoring it and know where to go for after surgical care”.
Another reason, he said, is to ensure there is a follow-up measure in place after the surgery.
“Follow-ups usually tell the doctor or the surgeon in this case if there is a post-surgical infection, or if proper post-surgical advice were taken and what to do.
“So, most times after the free cataract surgery, a worse condition can occur like panopthalmitis or uveitis which may lead to the removal of the eyeball in the worst-case scenarios,” he said.