CHENNAI: Delays in screening and treatment for cataract, disruption in eye care services and cataract surgeries at hospitals during the pandemic has led to a five-fold increase in the cases of cataract in the city.
“It has affected people in the age group of 50-70 years in the past one year. For every 100 outpatients who visit private hospitals, anywhere from 40-60 are diagnosed with cataract conditions, most of them being end-stage cataracts. It used to be just 10 per 100 outpatients on average during pre-COVID years,” said Dr G Srinivasan Rao, senior ophthalmologist, Dr Agarwal Eye Hospital.
On Cataract Awareness Month, Dr Srinivasan said that the hospitals — including GHs, were either closed or converted into COVID-19 treatment centres. “This resulted in the postponement of eye tests and surgeries. COVID-19 also saw an increase in people with uncontrolled diabetes, hypertension, blood pressure, and other chronic health conditions, which are the main risk factors for cataract,” he pointed out.
About 40-60% of blindness in India is caused by cataract. “Those above 40 years must go for regular eye tests to check intraocular pressure. If you’re over 50, screen your eyes for cataract every year,” added the senior ophthalmologist.