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Vision 20 –20 a  programme that carried out cataract operations and intra ocular lens transplants free of charge has been suspended following a directive issued by Director General of Health Services Dr. Jayasundera Bandara, according to a Health Ministry Spokesman.

It is also reported that this move follows pressure brought by eye surgeons as their income from private practice has been reduced by this free programme.

The Vision 20-20 programme was inaugurated five years ago on an island-wide basis providing eye care free of charge, on an initiative of President Maithripala Sirisena, when he was the Minister of Healthcare and Nutrition.

It is reported that during the tenure of the programme around 200,000 free intra ocular lens implant surgeries had been carried out, in addition to around 38,000 schoolchildren being donated with spectacles, with subsequent changes in lens prescriptions, when necessary.

The programme had been operative in metropolitan, urban and rural areas.

In addition, to service the demand for lenses under this programme an industry to manufacture lenses locally had been started with donor funding.

According to observers, this move by the Health Ministry will now not only benefit the lucrative eye surgery care but also the optical and lens trade as these same persons are stakeholders of optical establishments.