Over 250 eye patients in Rwamagana District are set to undergo free cataract surgeries.
A team of ophthalmologists from the Barraquer Foundation in Spain started screening more than 500 patients with the defect at the weekend.
The week-long mission will also see the awarding of two grants to Rwandan doctors to study at the Barraquer Clinic in Barcelona.
The team led by Dr Elena Barraquer, a top international eye-care specialist was invited by the Oshen Health Care, Ministry of Health, and was coordinated by Sphera Global Healthcare under which Oshen Healthcare, a group that recently signed a partnership deal with the Government of Rwanda to manage King Faisal Hospital operates.
Speaking about the surgeries, Dr Barraquer said cataracts are still the leading cause of blindness in the world yet they can be treated using simple procedures.
“The main goal is to try to eradicate blindness due to cataracts, which are the leading cause of blindness in the world. And it’s something that can often be solved with a simple procedure that we can perform to improve people’s lives,” said Dr Barraquer.
The innovative procedure relies on a technique called phacoemulsification that uses ultrasound to break down the cataract and then aspirating it through a cannula. This minimally invasive technique means that after a 20-minute procedure, the patient has a new view of the world.
While emphasising the advantages of this technique, Dr Ramón Cobián, an ophthalmologist pointed out that the old method of cataracts treatment was tedious and required opening a big portion of the cornea that at times increased risks of damage to patient’s eye.
He added that after the operation, patients are only required to make the follow-ups at the national hospital.
“We remove the patch one day after and they start noticing that vision is improving and for a few days, eye sight improves gradually,” he added.
More than 50 per cent of people who are more than 65 years old have cataracts. According to the WHO, cataracts are responsible for 48 per cent of blindness cases globally and many countries still don’t have the medical resources needed to remove them. At least 40 million people around the world suffer from curable blindness caused by cataracts.
Malnutrition and exposure to sunlight contribute to the early appearance and rapid progression of cataracts and the only solution to this pathology is surgery.
The team is visiting Rwanda for the third time since their first mission in 2014.
About the Barraquer Foundation
The Barraquer Foundation was created in 2003 with the objective of contributing to the development of ophthalmology and making it universal in terms of medical assistance.
Its main goal is to offer ophthalmologic services to people in need, both at the Barraquer Ophthalmology Clinic in Barcelona (Spain) and in developing countries.