Gerhard van der Merwe, 7, had very limited sight in his right eye until he was hit by a taxi in front of his parents' house in Parys Avenue about 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 pupil at Baillie Park Primary School, and his 12-year-old sister Nadia 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. He was flung about 12m through the air. Nadia was walking behind him. We were afraid that he was dead," said Gretha.
But he only hurt his eye and had 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.
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 on Tuesday confirmed that Gerhard had extremely defective vision in his right eye. He had not examined the boy 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 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 ought to sit.