Free corrective surgery helps five see the world with new hope

2012-10-16 00:00

FOR five people who were battling blindness, a whole new world of simple pleasures and more independence has opened up, following free cataract surgery in Pietermaritzburg last week.

The surgery formed part of an initiative inspired by the Ophthalmological Society of South Africa (Ossa), in a drive that encourages specialists to offer their expertise to the needy during the World Sight Week.

The operations were performed at Netcare St Anne’s Hospital last week.

Joy and laughter lingered in the doctor’s room on Saturday as three patients came in for their post-operative check-ups accompanied by their loved ones.

Hansee Pillay (74) from Woodlands said she couldn’t wait to be glued to a television screen to watch her favourite soapie, Isidingo, on SABC 3.

For the past three years Pillay has only seen shadows.

“I’m a pensioner and my daughter, who’s a single mother, helps me. I wouldn’t have been able to afford the operation,” she said.

“Now I can see everything. I praise the doctor for this. He’s such a humble man and I also thank God.”

The operation usually costs between R13 000 and R18 000.

Pillay’s daughter Jenny said her mother was constantly depressed and afraid she would go completely blind.

However, Pillay can now read her letters and watch TV.

“I’ll follow my favourite soapie, Isidingo. I can’t miss it,” she laughed out loud. “I’m happy.”

Since last year, Alice Mzobe (62) from Mkhambathini could only see out of one eye.

Mzobe’s face glowed as she spoke about how she can now cultivate her land. “I live in a rural area and I couldn’t cultivate anymore, but now I can,” she said.

“I can even clean my house without leaving any spot untouched,” she said with a smile.

“What else can one say, except thank you?” Mzobe asked.

Ayesha Hoosen’s (84) from Northdale also shared the same sentiments. For five years she couldn’t read or see far.

“I battled,” she said, adding that the operation was painless.

For Hoosen, it was as if her youth has been restored.

“I feel young,” she said with gratitude written all over her face.

“Thank you, doctor” were the most-uttered words of the day.

The patients were under the care of ophthalmologist Dr Enslin Uys, who is a specialist in medical and surgical eye problems.

Uys downplayed his role, saying it wasn’t a one-man show but a team effort involving players from the hospital, to the companies that donate the consumables.

He said cataracts are part of the ageing process and people with diabetes are prone to developing them earlier. They are one of the leading causes of reversible blindness.

“It is nice to help people and not charge them,” Uys added.

The patients told The Witness they received the best care.

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