Seychelles to offer vitreoretinal surgical service



Seychelles is looking forward to setting up a vitreoretinal surgical service after such an operation was conducted for the first time here last week.

This has come about with the help of an eye specialist, Professor Cyrus Tabatabay from Switzerland, who is conducting his third consultative visit at the ophthalmology unit at the Seychelles Hospital.

Vitreoretinal (VR) surgery involves surgical procedures on the retina at the back of the eye. This service will benefit the large number of diabetic patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy. At present, all patients in need of such intervention are sent for treatment to either India or Sri Lanka.

According to Dr Roland Barbé, consultant-in-charge of the ophthalmology unit, the surgery is a delicate and lengthy process and the unit intends in the long term to do most of VR cases in Seychelles.

“Only the most complex cases will be referred for overseas treatment,” said Dr Barbé.

The preparation for the introduction of VR surgery started last year with the introduction of phaco-emulsification for cataract surgery. Since this part of the service is going well, the unit will proceed to the next step with the removal of silicone oil, injected into the eye when patient goes for treatment of retinal detachment overseas. The oil had to be removed after six to 12 months and that again had to be done overseas. Now with the availability of VR surgical service, the injection and removal of the silicone oil will gradually be done locally. 

Professor Tabatabay is the founder and president of Teaching Eye Surgery Foundation (TES) in Switzerland which one of its objectives is to help countries whose citizens are facing serious eye problems.

To ensure good practice and high quality of VR surgery, Professor Tabatabay, through his foundation, donated some consumable equipment to the ophthalmology unit such as the state-of-the-art Optos machine, which takes photos which can show a large format of the retina located at the back of the eye and for close-up analysis results available in just 30 seconds as compared to other machines which take more than 10 minutes.

Since his arrival for this particular visit, Professor Tabatabay helped by Dr Barbé has performed vitreoretinal surgical operation on four patients with the last one being yesterday.

Health Minister Jean-Paul Adam has hailed the co-operation between his ministry and TES which dates back to 2016 and thanked Professor Tabatabay for his continuous support.

“The objective is to reinforce the capacity that we have in Seychelles for offering good quality care for people with eye problems,” said Minister Adam, noting that this has opened the door to localise more new procedures in terms of retina treatment and corneal transplant.

Minister Adam was speaking in the presence of the deputy chief executive of the Health Care Agency, Kathleen Cecile, Dr Barbé and other staff of the ophthalmology unit at the Yellow Roof building, while honouring the presence of Professor Tabatabay’s visit to Seychelles.

Professor Tabatabay said he was happy to note that the ophthalmology unit, under the guidance of Dr Barbé, has excelled in mastering cataract surgery and now with the introduction and adaptation the new VR service, the unit will be self-sufficient in five years from now and patients will no longer be required to be sent abroad.




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