102 patients able to regain their vision after cataract surgery
During the week of 16 to 20 October 2023, a team of health care workers from the Belgium organisation, Smile and See Foundation, performed 102 cataract surgeries at the Vrendendal Hospital Eye Care Centre. The team of health care workers consisted of 3 ophthalmologists, 1 optometrist and 2 assistants.
Not only did the Smile and See Foundation offer their time and expertise to perform these surgeries but they also supplied all the material which was needed to perform all the surgeries. All surgeries performed were on patients whose condition had progressed so far that they were no longer able to see.
According to Dr Magdel Putter, Ophthalmologists at Paarl Hospital, who does outreaches to the Eye Care Centre at Vredendal Hospital, these cataract surgeries are specialized and usually only performed by eye surgeons (ophthalmologists). Despite the very competent and equipped eye clinic at Vredendal, there are over 1000 patients waiting to have cataract surgery. “The surgery is expensive, using specialized equipment, material and lenses. The theatre time and surgeons are also not freely available. We perform 20-40 cataract operations monthly at Vredendal hospital. These surgeries were also not performed as usual for the past 4 years due to many contributing factors which include, COVID-19, personnel shortages and consumable shortages,” Dr Putter explains.
These surgeries have not only improved the patient’s eye health but also their quality of life. “These surgeries enable patients to regain their vision, stay economically active and function independently. Many of these patients are the only breadwinners and lose their jobs due to cataracts,” Dr Putter shares.
Dr Putter and Vredendal Eye Care Centre wishes to thank all the role players who made this outreach and the 102 surgeries that took place possible. “The Paarl Rotarian clubs especially Rudi Du Pont and Pietie van Aarde were both vital in making the outreach possible. They gave a lot of their personal time and energy to help these people in need. A big thank you to the Belgium team for coming to do the surgeries and sponsoring the consumables and lenses. They delivered a service of the highest quality and we are all very thankful for the time and effort they spent,” says Dr Putter.