Nepali Times
Life Times
Eye health

DHANVANTARI by BUDDHA BASNYAT, MD


The treatment of eye problems in Nepal is head and shoulders above medical treatment in other fields in this country. Common eye diseases like cataract (clouding of the lens in the eye, called "motibindu" in Nepali) lend themselves to prompt and effective treatment by a simple surgical procedure. Compare this with trying to treat a patient with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), another common Nepali ailment.

In treatement of COPD patients, the physician can try to offer some useful medicines to help the patient, but the clinical outcome is never as dramatic as restoring vision. In addition, opthalmology in Nepal has been blessed with the likes of Sanduk Ruit, the eye surgeon with impressive dexterity who has stunned the opthalmological world and brought lasting impact on eye health in Nepal and neighbouring countries.

A younger star in opthalmology is Suman Thapa who especialises in glaucoma (appropriately named "jalbindu" in Nepali). Although not as widespread as cataract in the general population, glaucuma can be devastating if left untreated without proper eye checks which involves measuring pressure of the fluid in the eye. Excessive fluid pressure can lead to permanent optic nerve damage with loss of vision. Thapa recently completed comprehensive, scientific research on glaucoma in Bhaktapur district.

A wide sampling (4,800 people above 40) of the Newar ethnic group in Bhaktapur followed by comprehensive eye exams at Tilganga Institute of Opthalmology in Kathmandu revealed that about 6 per cent blindness resulted from glaucoma. This was higher than what was originally thought to be the case. Another important achievement of the study was establishment of normal Nepali parameters in a glaucoma survey. Prior to this, dubious, unsubstantiated reference values were used for glaucoma tests in Nepal.

The researchers were able to create greater awareness of this preventable problem and the study. Hopefully this study and subsequent awareness of the disease and its prevention (timely measurement of eye pressure) will spread far and wide in Nepal under Suman Thapa's enthusiastic leadership. For his impressive body of work from Bhaktapur, Thapa was awarded a PhD from the Vrije University in Amsterdam. We wish more young doctors will follow in this both academic and practical pursuit of ophthalmological problems in Nepal.



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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