A 96-year-old patient was among the four patients that underwent cataract surgery at the University College Hospital (UCH) Comprehensive Health Centre, Sepeteri, in the Saki East Local Government Area of Oyo State, as part of efforts by the hospital to provide quality eye services, checkmating medical tourism in Oke Ogun community.
UCH’s community ophthalmologist, Dr Olutoke Ayorinde, said it was the first time eye surgeries were carried out at the Otunba Bamidele Dada-Endowed Ophthalmic Unit of the hospital, which was remodelled in 2014.
According to her, the four patients consisting of three men and a woman, the youngest in her 70s, were discharged the day after the surgery at the hospital.
Dr Ayorinde said before now, all patients with eye problems that require surgery were usually brought back to UCH to have their eye surgeries done.
According to her, the debut of eye surgery at the Comprehensive Health Centre, Sepeteri, was to encourage uptake of eye care service at the hospital, which lacked an operating microscope to use for such minor eye surgeries till June 2018.
The medical expert said eye surgeries will now be taking place at the hospital every third Thursday of the month, adding that people with eye problem do not have to travel to Benin Republic, Ilorin or other private hospitals to access care that they cannot be sure of its quality.
She declared: “All the patients went home the second day after surgery. They had the quality of surgery that we provide in UCH. They had small incision cataract surgery. Of course, this is cheaper and there is less strain on relatives.
“You should have seen how the place was; people were just trooping in and out. I guess that they did not believe it; when people left home for surgery and then the following morning they were seen again at home. They were surprised asking if it is true.”
Dr Ayorinde said not all eye surgeries need to be done in tertiary facilities like UCH, Ibadan, adding “when you consider that you have 10 patients requiring eye surgery, eight of them we will be able to do at an outpost like Sepeteri.”
She dispelled the myth that certain cataract cases cannot be surgically operated, adding, “now we do not look for a ripe cataract. We consider the patients’ quality of life and strike a balance. Somebody may not have a ripe cataract but he is unable to read or drive at night. The quality of life has dropped, so you have to do that surgery; you cannot wait.”
UCH’s Chief Medical Director, Professor Temitope Alonge, said “this is probably the first rural comprehensive health care centre that would carry out such major surgical intervention of this nature.”
He described it as “an innovation” considering that over 30 per cent of those who came for medical outreaches the hospital conducted over the past one year in Oyo and Kebbi states had eye problems.
“Indirectly, it means we have a lot of problems with the eye in Nigeria, but people just do not recognise how much they are.
Sadly, 50 to 60 per cent of the eye problems are due to cataract, a preventable cause of blindness.
“There are so many people living in rural areas who could not have access to this kind of treatment because of distance and ignorance.
But it takes a tertiary healthcare to provide that care in an environment that is conducive.”