Eight patients may lose sight after tainted cataract operation

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Eight private hospital patients operated on for cataract but presented serious complications due to infection by a drug-resistant strain of bacteria may lose their sight in the affected eye.

Andreas Neophytou, Director of the Makarios Hospital where four of the patients are currently being treated, told the Cyprus News Agency that “although their condition is manageable, there is always the danger of them losing sight to the eye that has been operated on”.

He added that the infection has been controlled by antibiotics and the ophthalmologists were to re-examine their condition on Tuesday.

Neophytou said that “due to the seriousness of their condition, two to three days will need to pass for doctors to assess the full extent of the damage caused by the infection”.

Patients could lose up to 80% of their sight on the eye that was operated on.

The eight patients were operated on at the Apollonion Hospital, a private clinic in Nicosia but were infected by a drug-resistant strain of bacteria.

Initially, they were sent to a private hospital in Limassol where doctors treated their infection.

Due to the seriousness of their condition, they were then transferred to state hospitals in the capital.

Four of the patients, aged 60 to 80, are being treated at Makarios Hospital and four at Nicosia General Hospital.

Biopsies showed all patients had pseudomonas endophthalmitis infection, a multi-resistant bacteria that lives in the back of the eye and damages the nerve tissue.

All the patients had undergone cataract surgery last week at the Apollonion.

Three days later, most of them experienced pain and infection on the operated eye.

An operation to address problems caused by cataracts to the eye are believed to be safe as doctors say that on average, the risk of infection for such operations is 1 in 1,000.

The Health Ministry has launched an investigation into the matter, ordering the private hospital to keep the surgery room closed until it discovers the source of the bacteria.

There is an investigation on issues related to the staffing, equipment, infrastructure of the hospital.