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Times of India
2 April 2010
By Sumitra Deb Roy
Mumbai, India

Woman Gets Sight Without Anaesthesia
A 15–minute cataract surgery that went horribly wrong for 56–year–old Sugandha Trilotkar pushed her into a decade of darkness. After a long wait of 10 years, she finally saw her grown–up son and can now cook without mixing up spices.

About a fortnight ago, Trilotkar regained her vision that was lost to cataract with the help of laser technology – and without anaesthesia. In 2000, she had approached a charitable hospital for the cataract surgery, but the mild dose of anaesthesia had caused a massive cardiac arrest. After the attack, Trilotkar developed a fear of surgery, even if it meant living with blindness for years.

“My son Nitin was growing up in front of my eyes, but I could never cherish those moments,” she said with a visible excitement. Her loss of vision, termed as legal blindness – no vision beyond 3 metres – deprived her of small things like watching television or venturing out of her house. “Now, I will cook using the right spices as I have to make up for cooking blindly over the years,” she said.

Trilotkar’s case was special as a sensitivity test done on her following the cardiac arrest showed that she was allergic to almost all drugs used to anesthetise a patient. Doctors at Aryan Hospital in Kurla, however, managed to convince the patient to undergo the surgery without really having to lose her visual consciousness.

Ophthalmologist at Aryan Hospital, Dr Tripti Mongia, who operated on her, said, “We have crafted a method whereby we put one drop of nonsteroidal and non–inflammatory medicine two–three days before the surgery. And, while performing the surgery, an anesthetic gel is used which is not absorbed by the eye. Anaesthesia–related risk is almost negligible in this method,” she said. This makes it painless even without anaesthesia, she said.

J J Hospital dean Dr T P Lahane, who specialises in cataract surgeries, said: “About 50% of cataract surgeries are done without anaesthesia provided the patient is cooperative.” He added that male patients were more likely to get the surgery done without anaesthesia.

As for Trilotkar, she is happy that she can visit places on her own. For these 10 years, the only time she left home was to go for eye check–ups.

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