·  The patient, a home-maker from Mumbai, was suffering from sideways curvature of the spine (scoliosis) and head-spine misalignment

·  She could not straighten her head due to the rigid neck and was also not able to lie flat. This made the cataract surgery very challenging for eye surgeons

MUMBAI : Eye surgeons at Dr Agarwals Eye Hospital in Chembur performed a complex surgical procedure to treat an over-ripe cataract in a 55-year-old woman. What made the surgery really challenging was that the patient Malti Baliram Gharat, a home maker and Mumbai resident, was suffering from sideways curvature of the spine (scoliosis) and head-spine misalignment. As a result, her head was permanently bent on one side at a stiff angle, and she could not lie down flat. She was forced to sleep lying only on her left side in the bed, with her head also facing the same direction.

The patient was unable to perform day-to-day chores due to her peculiar physical condition. To make matters worse, she was also suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis (Koch’s disease). Malti’s problems got compounded when she also developed cataract in her right eye. She was denied eye surgery at several eye hospitals in the city due to her rigid head tilt. With time, the cataract became over-ripe (hyper-mature) and she couldn’t afford to delay the surgery any further. If not removed, the cataract would have led to total vision loss. That is when she decided to approach Dr. Agarwals Eye Hospital at Chembur.

Said Dr. Nita Shah, Head - Clinical Services, Dr. Agarwals Eye Hospital at Chembur, Mumbai, who conducted the surgery on Malti: “When the patient arrived, it took us half an hour just to get her in a better physical posture to conduct the surgery. We tried to straighten her head to operate on her eye, but it could be moved only up to 45–60 degrees. After this, we had to strap her body tight, as she could not maintain a still posture. We also had to strap her head with tape to hold it still and avoid any jerky movements during the surgery.”

She added: “To add to the challenge, the patient could not be given general anesthesia, as she was quite unfit. The procedure therefore had to be done under local anesthesia. The most challenging aspect of the procedure was getting the patient into a comfortable lying position so that we could operate without difficulty. This was done with the help of a foldable operating table.”

Dr. Nita Shah operated on the patient using the phacoemulsification method. She added: “A small incision was made at the edge of the cornea and an opening created in the membrane surrounding the eye lens. An ultrasonic probe was then inserted to dissolve the cloudy lens into tiny little fragments, which were suctioned out of the eye. A foldable intraocular lens (IOL) was then implanted into the eye through the corneal incision. The surgery was a success, and the patient can now see perfectly with the new lens.”

Expressing her gratitude, Malti Baliram Gharat said: “For many years of my life, it was very difficult to do daily chores, and the progressing cataract was making it even worse for me. Today, I have a better eyesight and living a much fuller life due to the efforts of the doctors of Dr Agarwals Eye Hospital. I am thankful to Dr Nita Shah and her team for performing this surgery with all my underlying health conditions.”

According to the National Blindness and Visual Impairment Survey conducted in India between 2015-19, cataract is the primary cause of blindness in people above the age of 50. The country has among the largest blind populations in the world to the tune of 50 lakhs. More than 66 of this blindness is due to cataract. Every year, over 20 lakh new cases of cataract are reported in India.

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