A life-changing opportunity for cataract patients in Eastern Cape

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Cataract surgery in progress at Nompumelelo Hospital in Peddie. Photo: Supplied
Cataract surgery in progress at Nompumelelo Hospital in Peddie. Photo: Supplied


As part of the Eastern Cape health department’s endeavours to deliver quality health and care service, over 55 people had their cataracts removed over the weekend while eight others were fully operated on.

The provincial department said the restoration of the people’s eyesight came after Health MEC Nomakhosazana Meth launched a collaboration with the SA National Council for the Blind (SANCB).

A cataract is a clouding of the lens inside the eye, causing vision loss that cannot be corrected with glasses, contact lenses or corneal refractive surgery.

Meth said the 55 cataract surgeries were done at Nompumelelo Hospital in Peddie and the patients were selected from hospitals around Nkonkobe and Amahlathi sub-district, and had been on the department’s waiting list.

READ: In-depth | What is behind the massive cataract surgery backlogs in Gauteng?

Nompumelelo Hospital currently offers screening and prescription of reader spectacles to needy patients with complicated cases referred to Cecilia Makiwane Hospital at Mdantsane in East London for further examination and possible surgeries.

“Most cataracts are associated with the ageing process and are common among older citizens, which at times if not removed may lead to blindness.” Meth said:

We are committed to ensuring that we do everything we possibly can within available resources to ensure that we improve the quality of services we offer.

She said such partnerships with SANCB will enable them to ensure that people’s quality of life improves.

Meth added that the campaign will result in partially blind patients from various areas under Amathole District Municipality receiving cataract operations that will significantly improve their eyesight.

According to OSSA Right to Sight Trust, even though cataracts are highly treatable and one of the most cost-effective procedures in medicine, the condition remains the leading cause of blindness in the world.

READ: Provincial health department employs more than 500 nurses

The trust said in South Africa, the backlog of blind or partially sighted people due to untreated cataracts stands at an estimated 240 000.

“Except the Western Cape and parts of the Eastern Cape, government services for cataract surgery are unable to meet the demand. Many public hospitals do not have ophthalmologists or are understaffed due to posts not being funded. This has resulted in a severe backlog of patients requiring surgery, with many remaining on a waiting list for well over a year.”


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