We had finished the preliminary eye-checkup before Diwali at Vikramgad. Some 7 kids were earmarked for the advanced treatment. Apart from Chetan Tokre (Nystagmus patient), we had three more kids with very high progressive myopia. One kid had untreated eye injury and one kid had low vision despite of not so high number. A vehicle was hired for visit which included 5 kids and 4 parents along with one teacher. Dr Mihir Shah, who runs Jyotirmay Eye clinic at Thane, was to examine all of them.
In case of Chetan Tokare, the nystagmus patient, the current vision is quite stable. He is able to manage the same with spectacles and eye drops (Azopt containing Brinzolamide, which reduces the shaking of the eyes) so far. However, it was decided that he can take up surgery for the same. It would make his head position straight. His viewing zone would expand. Ability to gauge the contrast would be better and the probability of squint would reduce. He has to take blood test, chest X ray and pediatrician certificate before taking up the test. Doctor also recommended minor surgery for his brother, who is developing squint now.
Atul Wangad, kid from Guravpada, had whitish patch in his right eye. He was not part of the school till last year. Hence, he did not take any eye examination, which we had conducted. Doctor informed us that he had eye injury (pencil piercing the eye), wherein his lens was punctured (developed cataract thereafter). There was calcium deposit as well. His pupil was dried and was stuck up with the lens. As per the expert, this case is treatable, wherein some vision can be restored. He would have to take advanced sonography of the eye before his case is taken up.
These tribals stay hardly 100 km away from a city like Mumbai, but are completely deprived of the basic medical facilities. There is no optometrist or even ophthalmologist in the area. There is no mechanism to conduct regular eye tests in the schools. Illiterate parents don’t even realize whether the kid has deficient vision. Even if they realize, they don’t know what to do. Even in the cases, we have identified, to get the basic blood tests or for the fitness certificate, the kids would have to travel out of Vikramgad. Since the kids cant communicate properly, even the normal eye checkup may not give perfect result. They need to be checked with Retinoscope to get the closest number and fine tune the same with traditional method.
We are quite thankful to Dr Mihir Kothari and his entire staff for accommodating these seven kids at a short notice and carrying our extremely thorough examination. Hopefully, we would be able to make difference of the kids, who are associated with us. However, there would be thousands of kids in that area, who may not get right help at the right time and pay the price for the rest of their life.