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Posted at: Aug 13, 2016, 12:40 AM; last updated: Aug 13, 2016, 12:40 AM (IST)

60% protesters hit by pellets in eyes are teenagers: Docs

Samaan Lateef

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, August 12

At least 60 per cent people hit in eyes with pellets during the ongoing unrest in the Valley are teenagers and several of them are severely hit in their optic nerve, making their vision restoration impossible, say doctors at SMHS Hospital here.

“We have seen patients from eight to 80-year-old with pellet injuries in their eyes, but 60 per cent of them are teenagers,” said Dr Sabia Rashid, a well-known retina surgeon of SMHS Hospital.

“In 20 patients the optic nerve has got severely damaged and regaining of vision in them is near impossible,” Dr Sabia said. She said, “Dozens others have suffered damage to the macula — an oval yellowish area near the centre of retina, which is the region of keenest vision.”

“If optic nerve or macula is damaged, the restoration of vision is very bleak,” she said.

At least 420 pellet-hit youth have been admitted to the ophthalmology department of SMHS Hospital since July 8, following the killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani. The ophthalmologists of SMHS Hospital sealed the pellet wounds inside the eyes of all the patients. Nearly 200 of them needed secondary surgery. As of now 124 retina surgeries have been conducted on youth who have suffered vitreous haemorrhage, retinal detachment, tears or holes in their eyes due to pellets.

Dr Sabia has conducted over 15 retina surgeries in the past one month on patients hit by pellets in eyes. However, she said it would be too early to talk about the restoration of vision in patients, who had undergone vitrectomy surgery.

The follow-up of the patients who have undergone primary repairing was good despite strict restriction on movement of people across Kashmir, she said.

Ophthalmologists at SMHS Hospital say if the pellet injuries in eyes stop happening they could complete the secondary surgeries (vitrectomy) within this month. However, eye specialists at SMHS Hospital have been witnessing surge in eye injuries during clashes on Fridays, adding to their burden.

“It is very unfortunate that the government is interested in the number of vitrectomy (retina) surgeries conducted on pellet-hit civilians and not in how many people has been blinded,” said an ophthalmologist.

The four patients who were shifted to AIIMS, New Delhi, returned home today. While Insha Mushtaq, 14, whose has gone blind in both eyes, has undergone two interventions, the other three patients said they are returning home 

dissatisfied. “Apart from a few examinations, the AIIMS doctors didn’t attempt to restore our vision. We are coming back in the same state the way we had gone there,” said Firdous Ahmad Dar of Sopore, who has been hit by pellets in both eyes.

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