Opening Windows At Twilight Time

13 October 2015


LPMAK Mounts Free Eye and Cataract Treatment Operation For Community

Eyes are our windows, an organ helping us to interpret vision through messages transmitted to the brain.  

What would happen if we were to have trouble with our eyes, and we are unable to send messages on vision to the brain? For normal people with healthy eyesight, being unable to see would be a disaster. Eyes play a crucial part in the day-to-day life of humans. 

Indonesia has a program, Vision 2020 – to eradicate blindness and eye impairments nationwide – that was launched in tandem with the WHO universal eye health  global action plan. 

Cataract is an eye disorder in which clouding of the lens of the eye prevents light from reaching the cornea, causing the sufferer to have vision difficulties. According to Indonesia’s Health Ministry, cataract is one of the most prevalent causes of blindness in Indonesia and the world. Cataract incidence is estimated to be 0.1% every year, or one person in 1000 becomes a new cataract sufferer every year. People in Indonesia tend to suffer from cataract 15 years sooner compared with populations in other subtropical areas, with 16-22% cataract sufferers undergoing surgery in Indonesia below the age of 55.  

In Papua Province, cataract prevalence in 2013 was 2.4% of the total population. This may not seem a very high figure, but given the sub standard conditions in Papua, the battle to fight cataract and vision impairments becomes truly challenging. Nationwide, one eye specialist handles more than 17,000 patients, far below the WHO standard of 1 : 2,000. In the capital city Jakarta where the prevalence is least, the ideal standard is not achieved, let alone in Papua in the easternmost part of Indonesia.

This was the reason behind the Amungme and Kamoro Community Development Agency’s (LPMAK’s) mounting a special operation to eradicate blindness and eye health impairments in Mimika Regency. In managing the PTFI partnership fund, LPMAK is tasked with carrying out programs to enhance the quality of life of the community, among other through the area of health.  

To mark World Sight Day which falls on the second Wednesday of October every year, LPMAK engaged a number of entities including Mimika Regency’s Health Office, RSUD Timika hospital, and the foundation  Yayasan Kemanusiaan Indonesia to provide free eye treatment and cataract surgery for the community. Following a similar activity held in the lowland area last year, this year the operation was  held in the highlands, at  RS Waa Banti hospital in Tembagapura District to cover the Banti area and 2 areas in Timika, namely Mapuru Jaya and SP 1.

The sequence of eye disorder treatments began in the village of Waa Banti on Monday (5/10) with eye examinations and cataract detection held among the community. Out of the 190 community members who were examined, 11 were diagnosed with cataract, and the rest were suffering from minor eye disorders such as myopia and hypermetropia.

On the next day, 7 people underwent cataract surgery in RS Waa Banti hospital – 1 patient’s case was deemed to be too severe and surgery was ruled out for medical reasons, while 3 others opted not to follow through with surgery. The foundation Yayasan Kemanusiaan Indonesia was appointed by LPMAK to perform eye examinations and surgery. Dr. Jusni Saragih Sp.M was the surgeon.

Dr. Jusni said the method performed was manual phacoemulsification, given the circumstances of being in a remote area. This is a conventional surgery method in which the surgeon uses a scalpel to make a tear in the eye and aspirate the damaged lens to replace it with a new artificial intraocular lens.

”There were no remarkable constraints in today’s operations. Mostly they consisted of communication problems because the patients could only speak in the local language. Overall patient cooperation was good and surgeries proceeded smoothly,” dr. Jusni said. 

The seven patients who were almost all elderly were beaming when three doctors removed the bandages covering their eyes, on Wednesday (7/10). Everyone appeared to be happy that they had recovered their eyesight, although it will take some time before vision is fully restored. 

“I thank God for being able to see clearly with my own two eyes again. I had been living in blurriness for the last 12 years. This is an extraordinary blessing,” uttered Poi Omaleng, a patient who underwent surgery to his right eye.   

Tembagapura District Chief Slamet Sutejo when asked to comment said “I thank God for this blessing on the community here through the doctors who performed the cataract surgery. Certainly, thanks to LPMAK and PT Freeport for community programs that always hit the mark here. We hope this is only the beginning of future excellent programs in outreach to even more remote areas such as Aroanop and Tsinga.”

LPMAK is continually striving to develop community programs that will maximize benefits for communities in Mimika Regency. From Wednesday to Friday (7-9/10), eye examinations and cataract surgery will be performed in the lowland areas of Mapuru Jaya and SP1. (Miko Sularso)

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