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Blinding-Disease Surgery Is Done Safely in Villages, by Nonphysicians

a study in Gambia that compared outcomes for village-based and hospital-based surgery found that results were similar in both settings. However, village-based surgery was less costly and time-consuming for patients.

“I think it's completely appropriate for ophthalmic assistants to do this surgery, and it’s a good way to solve the shortage of ophthalmologists,” said Thomas Lietman, M.D., director of the WHO Collaborating Center at the University of California, San Francisco. “Since it’s not intraocular surgery and the infection risk is low, you don’t need a great operating area. Community-based surgery wouldn’t be all that difficult to do.”

A final randomized study compared results of two short-term nonsurgical techniques for minimizing contact between the eyelashes and the cornea. The more commonly used technique, called epilation, involves removing the eyelashes. The alternative is to apply double-sided tape to force the eyelashes away from the eyeball. This study found that the tape was more effective as a temporary measure, but it had to be replaced weekly.

According to Lietman, there is reason to be optimistic that the WHO goal of eliminating trachoma by 2020 can be achieved.

“I think we’re on target and maybe even ahead of schedule,” he said. “Infection is being reduced with antibiotics, and lids are being operated on, saving vision more immediately. Also, trachoma is disappearing as areas get wealthier. War and unrest may be what prevents the last few areas from being cleared in time for 2020.”

(Source: Newswise)
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