25 complain of blindness after eye camp in Tamil Nadu (Second Lead)

August 24th, 2008 - 10:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Aug 24 (IANS) Use of expired medicines during an eye camp at a private hospital has led to at least eight people losing their sight, following which their relatives Sunday stoned the hospital and blocked traffic in a central Tamil Nadu town.Officials said preliminary investigations have revealed that eight people lost their sight due to flawed procedures during a free eye camp conducted by the hospital surgeons in Perambalur and Tiruchirappalli districts in late July.

No arrests were made till late Sunday.

Two of the victims told reporters in Tiruchirappalli, 25 km from Perambalur, that they have lost their eyesight and doctors were attending to them now.

“I have turned completely blind and will commit suicide if I get a chance. Not only am I not able to see anything, the irritation in the eyes is killing me,” said M. Yashoda, a 73-year-old woman who underwent the surgery at the hospital.

“We are poor people with little political backing. The hospital expressed helplessness by claiming an error in the packing of the medicines used when I complained of blindness after the cataract operation,” said N. Ramaswamy, 61.

Of the 55 people operated upon July 29, 25 said they had lost their sight.

The charges have been denied by the Joseph Eye Hospital, which conducted the surgeries.

“Only six people complained of total blindness, which we are attending to. Others suffering from irritation are also being attended to and are responding favourably,” hospital spokesperson S. Akhila said by telephone from Tiruchirappalli.

Situated some 275 km south of Chennai, Perambalur is a district with few industries and job opportunities.

Its land has turned barren due to no rains and drying up of the water table, leading to near total failure of agricultural vocations, officials said.

According to hospital sources, property worth Rs.500,000 was destroyed in the assault by villagers angry over the flawed procedure of surgeries.

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