Four given new eyes in free op

2011-10-17 00:00

FOUR patients who have undergone sight-restoring cataract procedures at St Anne’s hospital say they are happy to be given a new lease of life.

They were lucky to undergo the procedure without having to pay for it.

The operations were St Anne’s Hospital’s way of marking World Sight Day and part of the Right to Sight initiative, which was introduced by the Ophthalmic Society of South Africa to broaden access to much-needed cataract surgery.

Some patients wait more than two years for the procedure to be carried out and each operation costs more than R15 000 per patient.

Dr Enslin Uys, resident ophthalmologist at St Anne’s Hospital, said: “Cataract surgery is very rewarding and nearly always successful today. When a cataract has been removed the patient’s vision is clearer, brighter and sharper than it would have been for a long time.”

More than 160 000 South Africans are blind as a result of cataracts.

Gonan Naidoo (64) says she is looking forward to making tea for her grandchildren and taking part once again in her household duties after the operation.

Her daughter, Diane Moodley, calls the surgery a miracle and says her mother is lucky to have undergone the procedure because she had been traumatised by the effect that blindness had on her life. Her blindness once caused her to burn herself while making tea.

Peter Bester (67) says he is looking forward to living a normal life again and being able to drive. He doesn’t want to be a burden to other people, he adds.

Gwyneth McLennan (80) is about to take up her lifelong hobby of reading again.

Since her sight deteriorated rapidly she has had to give up reading, driving and watching films among other activities.

“I have a huge pile of books waiting to be read and after my recovery I plan to make up my lost reading time,” McLennan says.

DR UYS says cataract surgery is remarkably quick and relatively painless. “It takes between 20 to 30 minutes to remove the cataract and put in an artificial lens. A patch is put on the eye and the patient can usually go home after about an hour. The following day the patch is taken off the eye and the patient is given eyedrops to use for about two weeks”.

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