Breast milk ‘cure’ for sore eyes ruins infant’s cornea


When Vikhroli resident Seema’s week-old son developed a red spot in his right eye, she followed her family elders’ advice: she squeezed out a few drops of her breast milk into his eye. Within 24 hours, Seema and her husband Sunil watched in horror as their newborn’s eye gathered pus and swelled up dangerously.
On Saturday, the 21-day-old underwent a cornea transplant as the breast milk worsened the earlier infection, created ulcers on the cornea and even perforated it. “We never thought an age-old practice could cause such damage,” said Seema’s brother Nandu (names have been changed on request). “One thoughtless moment has cost his eye,” said Sunil, a hawker in Ghatkopar.
In a country where grandmother’s ‘nuskas’ are revered, the family was only following the mob. “It is a common practice to put goat’s milk, madar plant’s juice or urine in the eye, but it’s medically incorrect,” said Dr Kavita Rao who operated on the child on Saturday afternoon. “How can anything that is not sterile be put in an eye,” added the cornea specialist from Aditya Jyot Hospital, Wadala. The child only needed some antibiotic drops for a few days to clear any conjunctivitis or bacterial growth. Dr T P Lahane, dean of the state government-run JJ Group of Hospitals, recalled a 65-year-old Barshi resident who had come with inflamed eyes in March. “She told me that as she had some irritation in both her eyes, she cut a potato into slices and put it on her eyes,” he said.
Within a day, both her eyes developed a raging infection that totally destroyed her internal structure. “We removed the infected material, but she was totally blind by then.”
The delay in the case of Seema’s newborn was also caused by some local doctors, alleged her husband Sunil. The child’s vision isn’t likely to be repaired. The operation mainly served to remove the infected parts and put a cornea to regain the eye’s structure. “This cornea may turn white too, but we should be able to do a vision correction corneal transplant within a few months,” Dr Rao added.Disclaimer : The views and opinions expressed by the Doctors are their independent professional judgment and we do not take any responsibility for the accuracy of their views. This should not be considered as a substitute for Physician’s advice. Please consult your treating Physician for more details.

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