Hundreds of Ghanaians with various degrees of cataract blindness have benefited from cataract surgery without painful eye injections. This was disclosed by the Head of Ophthalmology at the School of Medicine, University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ho, Dr Alfred Osafo-Kwaako, last Monday.
Standard cataract operations in Ghana required eye injections that many patients dreaded to receive, yearned to avoid and sometimes resulted in complications of the surgery.
Speaking to the media about the no-injection procedure, Dr. Osafo-Kwaako expressed his excitement about the impressive success rate of the procedure.
“Ghanaians now have a choice whether or not to accept painful eye injections during cataract surgery. So far, 509 cataract operations have been done without injections in the Greater Accra, Central, Western and Volta regions from 2011 to 2018,” he said.
According to recent statistics from the WHO, 65 million people globally have cataract and this constitutes 34.47% of all cases of global blindness. In Ghana, cataract causes 54.8% of blindness and the prevalence rate of blindness in Ghana is 7.4 cases per 1000 people, representing 207,200 people living with blindness while severe visual impairment is 10.7 cases per 1000 people, representing 299,600 people.
With the new procedure, cataract surgeries are conducted under topical anaesthesia using eyedrops instead of eye injections for the operation. The procedure has been available in advanced countries since 1884, however its use has increased in the past 30 years due to recent, safer technological advances in cataract surgery.
Cataract surgeries without painful eye injections in Ghana were first carried out on 209 blind eyes at the Our Lady of Grace Hospital in Breman Asikuma from 2011-2013, then later at the Dr. Rose Mompi Eye Hospital in Ve Koloenu near Hohoe from 2014-2015. Other locations where operations were carried out were the Effia Nkwanta Regional Hospital, Sekondi-Takoradi in 2016 then the Volta Regional Hospital in Ho and the Bemuah Royal Hospital in Accra in 2017-2018.
Anastasia Ampah-Korsah, the ophthalmic theatre nurse at the Our Lady of Grace Hospital who assisted with the first 209 cataract operations without injections from 2011 to 2013 was very impressed with the procedure. “It was a relief as most patients with blinding cataracts refused the operation due to the painful eye injections they were expected to receive,” she said. I think it is an effective procedure and the results after the procedure are good, she added.
Sharon Attivor, the ophthalmic theatre nurse for the series of operations done at the Volta Regional Hospital said that topical anaesthesia instead of eye injections is now used at the Volta Regional Hospital for cataract operations. It is very safe, convenient, painless and reduces complications of cataract surgeries. In fact, patients are no longer afraid of cataract surgery.
Dr Robert Ewusi-Wilson, the senior optometrist in charge of the Bemuah Royal Hospital said that this procedure has allayed cataract patients’ fears as most of them are scared of taking the injections before the surgery as well as the complications associated with the injections, so the number of patients accepting to undergo cataract surgeries has increased.
Dr Kwansema Kizzie-Hayford, the senior optometrist in charge of Dr Rose Mompi Eye Hospital said that cataract removal with topical anaesthesia is preferred by patients because it is just painless. The result has always been remarkable. Patients practically smile after and are excited to undergo the procedure with little or no fear because there is no more painful injection and no more associated complications.
Juliana Addo, ophthalmic theatre nurse at the Effia Nkwanta Regional Hospital in Sekondi-Takoradi said that the no-injection procedure has revolutionised cataract surgery.
Ghanaians can have access to this new procedure at several hospitals nationwide, notably, the Volta Regional Hospital in Ho, Bemuah Royal Hospital in East Legon, Accra, Good Shepherd Eye Hospital in Breman Asikuma and Dr. Rose Mompi Eye Hospital in Ve Koloenu near Hohoe.
Currently, there is an ongoing galuacoma campaign across all the regions where Ghanaians can call 0206430755, to get screening appointments for glaucoma treatment.