Each day, pellet victims wake up losing more eyesight
Handwara girl develops cataract; Shopian youth wakes up to hazy vision
Srinagar: Masarat Jan, a 14-year old girl from a Handwara village was hit by pellets in her left eye almost a month ago and had been sent home from hospital after being managed ‘conservatively’. On Tuesday, she was lined up at SMHS Hospital again for a surgery to remove the cataract that has developed in her injured eye over the past three weeks.
In the same Ward 08 of the Hospital where Masarat awaits her surgery, Farooq Ahmed, 22, a pellet victim whose both eyes had been perforated by pellets on the eve of Eid-ul-Adha, and who had come to the hospital for a check-up, has also been admitted for a surgery.
“I could see alright with my left eye but yesterday when I woke up, I could not see as clearly,” Farooq, a resident of Zawoora Shopian says. “There is some shade… some haze in front of my eyes today,” he says, blinking his eyes a number of times.
Doctors at SMHS Hospital said that complications after a trauma to eye are common. “Pellet injury, or any other injury to eye can result in complications and gradual or sudden loss of vision even months after the injury,” a senior doctor at SMHS Hospital said.
He further said that Glaucoma, Cataract and secondary retinal tears develop in 10-15 percent of eyes with trauma such as inflicted by pellets. “These complications can develop in some months or even after years,” eye surgeons at SMHS Hospital said.
For the pellet hit in the Ophthalmology wards of SMHS Hospital, each day is a day of mixed emotions. “Sometimes I feel my eye will be alright after the surgery. I will be able to see as I used to,” Farooq Ahmed says. “But sometimes I feel it will not get better now. I will never be able to see and work like I used to,” he sighs.
Farooq was reportedly injured when he along with his friends was cleaning Eidgah (ground for offering Eid prayers) and a verbal altercation broke out between security forces and the youth. “They left after the argument and sent another party which fired pellets and bullets at us indiscriminately,” he says.
Farooq is the only brother of four sisters one of whom called him when he was speaking to Greater Kashmir. He tries to comfort the caller – “How does it matter. This is a minor surgery.”
“My sisters were looking upto me for assisting and financing their studies and marriages,” says Farooq who was pursuing his graduation as well as doing a Diploma in Anesthesia. “I studied hard because I wanted to be sure to get a job to support my family, my sisters,” Farooq says. His father is a laborer and a farmer.
Masarat’s is a family similar to Farooq’s – five daughters and two sons. “Our daughters are the light of our eyes. And now she is losing her eye,” Masarat’s mother, Naseema Begum says. The teenage girl was reportedly injured when she had left her home early in the morning to study at a voluntary tuition service started in her village Chotipora, near Handwara on August 30th.
A student of Class 5, Masarat has two younger sisters studying in Class 2 and 3. One of her elder sisters is in Class 7. She has two brothers, one younger and one older than her. They are not studying.
Her mother says that the family struggled hard to make a living and let the daughters study. “Studies are about money these days. My sons can do manual labor but the daughters need to study,” she breaks down.
“What and how Masarat will study now?” she says.
Although doctors expressed optimism about the recovery and vision restoration of Masarat’s eye, they said that there can be no guarantee to a complication-free recovery. “Vitreous hemorrhage sometimes blocks the drainage in eye; then the eye tissues, where there has been an entry wound of pellets, are weak and can break at times. There can be some other problem also,” doctors said.
“All we can do is have a close follow up of all the cases,” they said.