Eye patients turn to self-medication

Eye patient
Self-treatment for eye diseases is very common in most developing countries. This may result to visual impairment and blindness.

The Eye Clinic in Fort Portal is registering a high number of patients using herbs to treat eye diseases.

Records at the clinic located at Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital indicate that each month, more than 200 patients who seek treatment at the clinic have used herbs for self-medication. The clinic serves patients from the seven districts in the region including Kabarole, Kyenjojo, Kyegegwa, Kamwenge, Ntoroko, Bundibugyo and Kasese.

The lack of drugs and inadequate eye specialists has, however, forced patients to seek alternative treatment.

Some of the common conditions diagnosed at the clinic are Cataract, Squints, trachoma and Glaucoma among others.

Nathan Kamulindwa, a nursing officer at the Eye Clinic, says that patients who come for treatment at the clinic have used traditional herbs and grass. He explains that patients squeeze the grass and the liquid is poured in the eyes.

Kamulindwa says that the use of herbs complicates the treatment of eye diseases.

However, some of the eye patients we spoke to say they are forced to use the herbs due to limited drugs at the clinic.

Vincent Mutegeki, a resident of Karambi in Kabarole district, says that he has suffered from Trachoma for close to three years. He explains that he has struggled with the disease and Karambi Health Centre III does not have the drugs.

Mutegeki says that his family is forced to use local herbs to relieve the pain.

Rebecca Asiimwe, another Trachoma patient says that since her home is 10 kilometres away from the eye clinic, she is forced to use herbs. She however says using the herbs is not effective and the eyes remain painful and cannot see clearly.

Asiimwe wants eye outreach clinics established and stocked with drugs to help patients.

Kamulindwa says that due to high numbers of patients, the drugs at the clinic are insufficient.

He adds that patients in need of treatment are sometimes referred to Ruharo eye clinic located in Mbarara and Mulago hospital.