MALDA: Two members of a family of five in Malda’s Gazole — all of them persons with blindness, who had to beg on the streets to survive — have got back their vision with assistance from the state government’s ‘Chokher Alo’ scheme, which allowed them to get vision-restoring surgeries on Wednesday.
The other three of the family are in the queue for similar procedures. The doctor treating them is confident all of them would get back more than 50% of their vision through multiple surgeries.
Fifty-year-old Biswanath Sarkar had lost his sight after a childhood bout with childhood. His wife, Archana Das, had congenital cataract. The couple have four children: Amit, Sumit, Soma and Sonali. Three of them were blind; only Amit, the eldest, can see. The family had to survive on begging.
It was last year that ophthalmologist Ajit Das noticed the family and took the initiative to check their eyes at the local health centre. “I found thatapart from Biswanath, the other five needed surgery to partially restore their vision,” Das said.
In the meanwhile, the project Chokher Alo had started at Malda Medical College and Hospital, under which persons with blindness could get operated for free. Das took the family to Malda and finally, on Wednesday, 15-year-old Sumit and 12-year-old Soma underwent surgery on an eye each. They were provided lenses and glasses and are now under observation. Their other eyes would be operated on soon. Then, the other three of the family, including Archana, will go under the scalpel.
Ophthalmologist Ajit Das, who took the family under his care, said operating on all of them at once would be difficult, since they would have no one to look after them. “After the age of 4-5, the retina hardly develops. So, apart from the youngest child, Sonali, who is 4, the rest will not get back full vision. But we are hopeful to be able to restore more than 50% of their vision,” Das said.
Biswanath Sarkar said he was grateful to the CM and the scheme. “Although my blindness would not be cured, it is due to Mamata Banerjee and the doctor that my wife and children are getting back theirs,” he said.
Malda was lagging behind in the Chokher Alo project till August. But thanks to initiatives from district magistrate Nitin Singhania, the district is now the third best in the state.