Ophthalmologists at SMHS face the toughest challenge with sheer grit

Ophthalmologists at SMHS face the toughest challenge with sheer grit

Srinagar: Ophthalmologists at SMHS–the main hospital in Kashmir–flooded with pellet-hit people, are grappling with an unprecedented challenge, not imagined in wildest of their dreams.
Senior ophthalmologists told Kashmir Reader that they had to take decisions spontaneously and simultaneously make preparations. The situation, they said, was beyond their imaginations.
“These days are the worst for us. It has been mentally challenging too because we never expected eye injuries at such a huge scale. We had to manage treatment in the scarce resources and simultaneously maintain our mental stability in the disturbing situation,” an ophthalmologist surgeon, wishing anonymity, said.
Data accessed by Kashmir Reader indicates that that since July 9, the ophthalmologists have managed 260 patients (till July 28) with eye injuries. “As many as 202 patients have been operated once while 77 have been operated upon twice. Among them 24 were hit in both the eyes of which four could never see again while rest have chances of regaining the vision by just one percent,” records reveal.
“July 10 was the most challenging day because we had to operate upon 60 patients with eye injuries. All of them had to be operated same time. Any delay caused would have meant more loss,” he said.
“We have never seen such influx of patients at a time, not even in 2010 (anti-India uprising). We had to plan a lot of things at a time,” the doctor said.
“To handle this number we first had to move beyond emergency operation theatre because not more than four operations are possible in it at a time. We opened other eye theatres where emergency eye surgeries were conducted,” he said.
On routine days, only four ophthalmologists stayed at emergency for six to eight hours. Since July 10, the doctor said, 10 surgeons have been kept on duty to meet any eventuality. Each surgeon stayed in the hospital for more than 15 hours each day.
“Although the injuries have been grave, the doctors have been able to save eyes of 105 patients. As many as 45 patients are likely to regain considerable vision while condition of 60 others is improving. None of these would be disabled for life and I am sure about it,” another surgeon said.
A challenge that baffles the eye surgeons is that they have to delay scheduled surgeries in case of fresh arrivals with pellet injuries.
“On the last Friday when we got 80 pellet injured, 15 scheduled surgeries (mostly, second surgery of pellet victims) were deferred for the next days. The sudden burst of injured affects every normal operation, this is quite worrisome,” he said.

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