Middle East

Turkish group gives free eye care treatment to thousands of displaced Syrians

A Turkish NGO is providing free eye care services to thousands of people in northern Syria displaced by years of conflict, Anadolu Agency reported.

In less than a year, the Alliance of International Doctors’ (AID) Ophthalmology Center in Idlib has performed hundreds of cataract operations and examined 7,000 people with eye diseases.

Due to mass migration related to the civil war and terrorism in Syria, more than 4 million people are living in Idlib, an area near the Turkish border outside the control of the Assad regime, many of them in tents.

Samer Alkhalil, an ophthalmologist at the center, said the facility sees all kinds of patients with vision problems, retinal diseases, cataracts, and corneal problems.

READ: Syria says any Turkish incursion amounts to ‘war crimes’

“We prescribe the required medicine or surgery, if it’s required,” he said. “If the surgery is related to cataracts or similar cases of intraocular lens implantation or anterior vitreous cut, we schedule an appointment with the patient and perform the operation within weeks after the examination.”

The center does about 100 operations and 900 examinations each month, he said, with refraction or poor vision making up most of the cases.

Alkhalil said there are a significant number of cataract patients in Idlib. “The reason for the high number of cases here, more than other places in the world, is the gap in or lack of (healthcare) services in recent years,” he said.

He added that the center is currently working on a large number of cataract operations, besides eye exams and distributing medicines and glasses.

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