Cataract is the clouding of the eye’s natural lens, causing vision loss. It is also the principal cause of blindness in the world. In fact, 413,000 Malaysians above the age of 50 were living with vision problems, with cataract being the main contributing factor for blindness (based on National Eye Survey conducted by the Health Ministry in 2014). It is responsible for 39.1 percent of vision-related problems faced by Malaysians. However, cataract is a readily treatable ailment as cataract surgery is very effective in restoring vision. The surgery involves the removal of the cloudy lens and insertion of a new plastic lens. In Malaysia, depending on the lens used, this procedure will typically cost approximately RM 5,000 to RM 6,000 and this may not be affordable for certain people
With this and its excellent relationship with Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur (PHKL) in mind, IMU Cares has started a new initiative to collaborate with this hospital in providing financial support for sight-saving eye surgery to needy patients in its bid to eliminate blindness. Financial aid from IMU Cares and Khazanah IHH Healthcare Fund (KIHF) will enable these needy patients to receive the much needed cataract surgery at Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur’s Eye Centre. This is in line with IMU’s commitment to serving the community and making a difference in the lives of the individuals with whom it engages.
International Medical University (IMU)’s Director of External Affairs, Prof Ong Kok Hai, said, “Since 2013, the IMU Cares and KIHF collaboration has benefited 200 people with various medical conditions, dental problems, back pain and conditions that require rehabilitative care. For the “Cataract Surgery Project”, we will be targeting underprivileged people who are at elderly homes, the urban poor at low cost housing areas and the rural poor (orang asli). For a start the project has already identified eight people who will be eligible to benefit from this, based on a recent IMU Cares’ health screening activity at Salak South, a township in Kuala Lumpur.” With the establishment of its Eye Centre last year PHKL has set aside an allocation for 40 cataract surgeries for this project. This is a good project for the doctors of this Centre to be involved in and it will also raise awareness for the relatively new Eye Centre. Chief Executive Officer of PHKL, En Anwar Anis said, “The Eye Centre which currently sees about 150-200 patients per month, has opened this project to all its ophthalmologists. As the number of doctors increase, we would expect to see an increase in the number of patients at the Centre and the number of patients for this project. We will also be opening this project up to the Rotary Club Bukit Kiara to identify candidates through their community outreach programmes.” Elaborating on his role in this project, Dr Manoharan Shunmugam, a Consultant Ophthalmologist and Adult & Paediatric Vitreoretinal Surgeon at PHKL said, “Once a patient is suspected to have cataract, my team and I are responsible for further screening and formal assessment to determine if there are any other eye conditions affecting their vision other than cataract. Only if the cataract is affecting the patient’s lifestyle, such as difficulty engaging in daily activities – driving, reading, etc, we will proceed with the surgery. In this case, other factors need to be further assessed to minimize risk for complications”. An IMU Alumni, Dr Manoharan has returned to Malaysia to serve the country after working in United Kingdom for over 14 years.