At least 200 eye patients with eye cataracts selected from across the country are set to receive free eye treatment at Ruhengeri Hospital in Musanze District.
The weeklong operation, provided by Barraqueur Foundation, an international organisation whose goal is to provide eyecare to help improve visual health, started yesterday.
The move aims at finding long lasting solution for people who suffer from cataract and to reduce blindness which is mostly caused by the cataract, according to Dr Elena Barraquer, an ophthalmologist and leader of Barraquer Foundation.
The 200 beneficiaries were selected from the over 1,000 cataract patients who were initially screened.
“Our goal is to try to eradicate blindness caused by cataract, since this is the leading cause of blindness in the world. It’s something that can often be solved with a simple procedure that we can perform and that offers a huge improvement in the way people live,” Barraquer said.
She added that procedures rely on a novel technique called ‘phacoemulsification,’ which involves using ultrasound to break down the cataract and then aspirating it through a canula.
This invasive technique means that after a 20-minute procedure, the patient has a permanent intraocular lens and a new view of the world, she said.
Dr Barraquer said malnutrition and extreme exposure to sunlight are some of the causes of cataracts, whose only solution is surgery.
Dr David Muhire, the head of department of ophaltomology at Ruhengeri Hospital, said the weeklong surgery exercise and screening is of a great value to Rwandan health services since it is being conducted by specialists.
Patients were upbeat that they could regain their sight after a long time with the visual impairment.
Emmanuel Dusabe, from Kibagabaga in Gasabo District, could not believe how the removal of cataract could be free.
“I was thinking that cataract surgery operation is very expensive but now I can be operated on free of charge. I am happy because they are going to help me regain the sight I lost years ago,” Dusabe said.
Dusabe encouraged other people who have visual impairments to seek medical attention.
Similar operations were carried out by the same foundation last year, an exercise at which more than 200 eye patients regained their sight.
According to World Health Organisation, cataracts are responsible for 48 per cent of cases of blindness around the world and many countries still do not have medical resources needed to remove them.
Over 40 million people around the world suffer from curable blindness caused by cataracts.
The clinic was organised by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with Barraquer Foundation.