The ophthalmology department of KEM Hospital was on their toes last week, trying the save the eyesight of two children. While they succeeded in treating one of the two children, they failed to save a 10-year-old boy’s vision.
While Ghatkopar resident Sahabuddin Khan was playing with lime (chuna), it entered his eyes accidentally. The delay in getting it treated led him to losing vision in his right eye.
Head of the ophthalmology department Dr Arjun Ahuja said, “People think acid entering the eye is more dangerous. But chuna and alkali are much more dangerous than acid as they penetrate the eye and lead to irreversible damage.”
Talking about Khan’s case, Dr Ahuja said that his right eye had already been damaged when he was brought to us last week. He further added that once chuna enters the eye, it sticks to the eye under the eyelid. “Even thorough washing does not remove all the particles. The child was taken to a local doctor who hadn’t given him an eye wash. This cost him his vision,” the doctor said.
According to Dr Ahuja, once the chuna particles get stuck under the eyelid, they enter the cornea, destroy its outer covering (epithelium) and cause opaqueness. “Doctors at KEM Hospital had to put placenta membrane in the child’s eye. He will require two or three more surgeries,” he said.
Experts claim that there is a low awareness about the danger of alkali burns, especially ones caused by chuna. Doctors say that such cases are usually reported during Diwali or while whitewashing.
“In case of such incidents, the eye must be washed with water vigorously till your eye stops watering. But lack of awareness about the danger of chuna is a problem,” Dr Ahuja said.
Moreover, while Khan is still admitted in the hospital, an 18-month-old girl was discharged after treatment after a hen pecked her in her left eye. “Her cornea was badly damaged, but we managed to stitch the torn bit. She was discharged few days back,” Dr Ahuja said.