Minto Opthalmic Hospital Gets Advanced Eye Surgery Suite, But Patients Stay Out Due to Covid-19



An advanced refractive surgery suite installed at Minto Eye Hospital here to provide affordable ophthalmic and Lasik surgeries has gone largely unused for lack of patients, thanks to the pandemic.

The VisuMax advanced femtosecond laser system made by German company Zeiss was obtained by the state government for a cost of around Rs 8 crore in 2019, but Dr BL Sujatha Rathod, the hospital director, explained that the unit had been put in place. just months before Covid-19 hit the state and disrupted non-Covid medical care.

“The idea was to offer advanced Lasik, photorefractive keratectomy and other eye surgeries at a fraction of the cost charged by the private sector using the same advanced level of surgical technology. If private hospitals charge Rs 1.2 lakh for Lasik, we charge around Rs 60,000. Other surgeries vary between 4,000 and 50,000 rupees. But the appearance of Covid-19 in Karnataka has derailed the interest of patients, ”she said .

The hospital said it had performed around 300 surgeries as of March 2020 when the lockdown resulted in the shutdown of non-Covid services. “Many hospital departments have been transformed to treat Covid-19 cases but to our surprise the number of people expected for surgery after the two waves has not been reached,” she said.

“Our medical team can do about 14 surgeries a day. Each surgery takes about five minutes. Our minimum wait is to have two or three patients a day. We don’t even get that,” she said. .

The reasons would be varied: a persistent fear of Covid-19 to seek treatment and a general lack of knowledge of the availability of the establishment at the center. The hospital stressed that it was only the third government facility to do so – after AIIMS and PGIMER Chandigarh – to offer such surgeries.

A third factor, despite the greatly reduced tariffs, is that even the reduced prices are unaffordable for the poor. “Of the 400 to 500 people who come on average daily to the hospital on an outpatient basis, about 50% have problems with refraction of the eye. to reverse, ”said Assistant Professor Kiran Kumar K, Cornea, Cataract and Refractive Services, Minto Ophthalmic Hospital, who is in charge of the suite.

“We sent a proposal to the government on Wednesday asking it to include refractive eye surgeries as part of the Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust (SAST), so that poor patients can benefit from the treatment without worrying about the cost,” added Dr Kumar.

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