Grade one recovers sight in almost blind eye after being hit by taxi

2011-06-22 00:00

POTCHEFSTROOM — A Grade one learner can see properly again — thanks to being a by a taxi.

Gerhard van der Merwe (7) was almost completely blind in his right eye until he was hit by a taxi in front of his parents’ house in Gauteng about two weeks ago.

Now he can see everything. He had been wearing glasses since the age of nine months and could only see with the aid of strong lenses.

“Doctors always thought he had very bad eyesight because I am diabetic and injected myself with insulin during my pregnancy. He could barely distinguish light and dark with his right eye,” his mother, Gretha van der Merwe, said.

Gerhard, a learner at Baillie Park Primary School, and his sister, Nadia (12), were crossing the road to call a worker when a taxi hit him.

“He didn’t see the taxi approaching from his right and walked right in front of it. The blow sent him some 12 metres through the air. Nadia was walking behind him. We were afraid he was dead,” said his mother.

Besides an eye injury, Gerhard also suffered mild concussion.

It now appears that Gerhard’s bad eyesight may have been due to pinched nerves.

“In hospital he kept telling us he could see. He had to get stitches in his right eyelid, and it was swollen. So we thought he meant the swelling was subsiding and that he could distinguish light again. But he kept saying he could see,” his mother said.

She believes a miracle has taken place in their family.

An eye specialist tested Gerhard and said he could read “from the largest to the very smallest letter on the chart”.

Dr Gideon du Plessis of the Eye Institute in Pretoria yesterday confirmed that Gerhard had extremely defective vision in his right eye.

Du Plessis had not examined Gerhard recently and would not comment on the possibility that the accident had contributed to his improved eyesight.

“There have been treatments and the situation had started turning around and improving. He was two years old when we treated him the first time and it had definitely been improving,” Du Plessis said.

Gretha van der Merwe said Du Plessis will see Gerhard on a follow-up visit during the July holidays.

For Gerhard, who is very fond of fishing and Bulletjie-rugby, the best thing is not to have to sit right in front in class any more.

“He says that is where all the naughty kids usually have to sit. Sometimes he still feels a bit shy without his glasses and will then wear them. He has been used to them for such a long time.”

Nadia has been receiving counselling following the accident.

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