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Traditional medicine in Oman: Its role in ophthalmology

Author(s): Al Barwani Badar | Al Belushi Habiba | Shenoy Radha | Bialasiewicz Alexander | Khandekar Rajiv

Journal: Middle East African Journal of Ophthalmology
ISSN 0974-9233

Volume: 16;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 92;
Date: 2009;
Original page

Keywords: Herbal medicine | ocular injury | traditional medicine | wasam

Aim: To present three patients with ocular disease who developed a range of complications following use of traditional medications. Settings and Design: Case series Methods: Three patients who were examined in the Ophthalmic department of a tertiary care teaching hospital in the Sultanate of Oman between 2003 and 2004, seeking care following use of traditional medicines and or healing practices for various ophthalmic problems described below. Results: The first patient was a computer professional with a chalazion; the patient used a plant extract from ′Calotropis procera′ as a part of the treatment. He developed corneal edema with decrease in vision in his left eye following application of the plant extract. Treatment with topical steroids and antibiotics resulted in a complete clinical and visual recovery. The second patient developed a fungal corneal ulcer (dermatophyte - Trichophyton mentagrophyte) after sustaining injury with an animal tail to the right eye and used honey for pain relief prior to presentation. She responded poorly to anti-fungal treatment, underwent a penetrating keratoplasty with recurrence of infection in the graft that resulted in a vascularized corneal scar. The third patient was a five-year-old child who was treated with ′wasam′ on the occiput for intraocular inflammation following bilateral uncomplicated cataract extraction. Following this treatment the topical steroid was discontinued. The "Wasam" treatment indirectly resulted in exacerbation of the intraocular inflammation and secondary glaucoma and poor vision as well as ′Wasam ulcers′ on the occiput. Despite treatment of the intraocular inflammation, the visual outcome was poor. Conclusion: Traditional medicine in Oman is sought by many for variable reasons. Lack of evidence-based scientific data on its safety or efficacy does not deter the Omanis from flocking the traditional healers. However, when applied in the treatment of ocular diseases, traditional medicine and healing practices seem to cause more harm than benefit for the patient.

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