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500 cataract patients to get free surgery


<Published in The Standard, 30 November 2023>

More than 500 cataract patients will receive free surgery at HKU Eye Centre, enjoying the latest and most advanced premium intraocular lenses, after the facility received HK$10 million from the TPK Kwok Family Charitable Fund.

Given the donation, 1,000 patients with financial difficulties can skip years of waiting for surgery at public hospitals and join the HKU cataract program to enjoy free eye examinations and restore their eyesight after only a one- to three-month wait.

Patients under financial pressure, including recipients of the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance or other allowances, as well as patients who have been waiting for surgery for over a year, will be able to join the program pending an eligibility assessment by the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui Welfare Council.

HKU Eye Centre director Christopher Leung Kai-shun, said patients with eye diseases now have to wait for up to 219 weeks, or over four years, for a specialist outpatient consultation at public hospitals, and at least another year to receive surgery.

"We will conduct eye examinations for at least 1,000 patients and we believe half of them have to receive surgery," he said.

Patients joining the program will receive a comprehensive evaluation, which may not be available in public hospitals, Leung said, adding that they will receive free cataract surgery with the implantation of an advanced "premium intraocular lens."

"Public hospitals are now offering monofocal intraocular lenses, which only allow one focus but are cheaper, worth HK$1,520," Leung said, adding such lenses only allow patients to see faraway things clearly while their eyesight at close range is blurry.

"The premium lenses we offer, including trifocal intraocular lenses and extended depth of focus lenses, are five to 10 times pricier than the monofocal lensesThe latest trifocal intraocular lenses are only available in the recent four to five years and patients with the lens will have a clear eyesight from any distance," he explained.

So far, the university has conducted free surgery for about 30 patients, Leung said, appealing for more patients to join the program by calling the hotline at 8209 8122. He added that all medical staff involved in the program will not receive any remuneration and that the donations will only be used on patients.

Yip Cho-yung, a jewelry industry employee who has received the surgery, said he could barely see anything before the surgery.

"Due to the strong refraction of diamonds, many of us in the same industry suffer from astigmatism and presbyopia after undergoing the surgery, I no longer need to wear glasses, and I can even read novels," he said.

Another patient, Yu Chin-pang, a security guard, said the surgery helped him return to his job and a normal life, as he could not read his phone messages in the past.

Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong, former joint chairman of Sun Hung Kai Properties and initiator of the TPK Kwok fund, said he also underwent cataract surgery before and "understands the inconvenience in the lives of patients and the mental and psychological pressure they face."

"The donation of HK$10 million to HKU Department of Ophthalmology aims at helping smoothen the waiting time for cataract patients in public hospitals and grassroots individuals in urgent need," he said.

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