Introducing intraocular lens implantation at an eye centre in Yemen
In May 2000, Ibn Al-Haitham Eye Centre (affiliated to the University of Science and Technology) in Yemen, introduced intraocular lens implantation (IOL) as a routine surgical procedure for cataract patients. For those who cannot afford the increased price of the surgery, the IOL is donated by local people or non-governmental organisations.
We conducted a study to find out if there has been an associated change in cataract surgery numbers after the introduction of IOLs. Figures for the total number of cataract operations performed for each year from 1998 to 2002 were obtained from the records of the operating theatre. Cataract operations were divided into those with and without intraocular lens implantation. The numbers of other surgical procedures for the same period were also recorded.
The available data show that the number of total cataract operations increased steadily over the years after the introduction of IOL as a routine surgical procedure for cataract surgery. The number of patients attending the Eye Centre, and patients admitted for other surgical procedures, also increased.
How can we explain this increase in numbers? Visual rehabilitation for those patients who have an IOL is much better than those who are given spectacles. Patients in Yemen depend on ‘mouth-to-mouth’ advertisement and they visit eye centres recommended by their neighbours, friends or family members. Patients who used to use thick spectacles and those who have bilateral cataract appreciated the difference when an IOL was implanted and encouraged others to have this new technology in the centres which provided it. It is possible that patient satisfaction following cataract treatment at Ibn Al-Haitham Eye Centre led to more patients attending the Centre, thereby increasing the number of all surgical procedures. However, these assumptions would need to be further investigated using social research methods.