Lives changed one surgery at a time

2019-10-23 06:02
Miriam Mothibe

Miriam Mothibe

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For the past 15 years, patients from all over the country have been gathering in Bloemfontein in the hope of undergoing cataract surgery which could be beneficial to their wellbeing and improve their lifestyle.

The annual Cataract Blitz, held at the Pasteur Eye Hospital in Bloemfontein to commemorate Eye Care Awareness Month, has aided more than 750 patients since its inception.

During the Cataract Blitz, needy patients receive the opportunity to undergo cataract surgery to improve their eyesight.

Patients are selected in advance and then operated on by ophthalmologists associated with the eye hospital.

The project was initiated to reduce blindness caused by cataracts.

“It is a great privilege to be a part of this annual event,” says Suretha Steyn, marketer of the Pasteur Eye Hospital.

Margrette Maretela (57) and Miriam Mothibe (79) are among the patients who underwent this procedure on 9 October.

Maretela, who is from Magogong in Taung, North West, has been struggling with her sight for the past three years.

Initially the sight in her left eye started deteriorating, which eventually affected her right eye as well.

sight started deteriorating and affecting the sight of her right eye. She experienced difficulty reading and doing her much-loved needlework. As a domestic worker, her poor eyesight also affected her work.

Mothibe, from Heidedal, Bloemfontein, was very impressed when she first heard of the quick and painless procedure that could change her life.

Mothibe started experiencing problems with her eyes in March, after which her sight started deteriorating in March and started having eye problems in March and her sight was worsening by the day.

Her doctor told her about the cataract surgery and a fellow She was informed of the operation by her doctor, as well as a fellow Heidedaller, who was almost completely blind before undergoing the operation, confirmed its success.

“This operation is going to change my life. I was scared that I might go completely blind. I am so thankful to have my sight back,” Mothibe said.

Dr Oene Los, hospital manager of the Pasteur Eye Hospital, wishes to thank the ophthalmologists, anaesthetist, staff and sponsors for making the Cataract Blitz a success.

The latter supports the Cataract Blitz, partially with others, with consumables used during the operations as well as, take-away bags with products for the patients and spoiling the staff.

The Catarac Blitz is associated globally with the national and provincial Department of Health, individual private hospitals, the Ophthalmological Society of South Africa, the South African Optometric Association, the World Health Organisation and various non-governmental organisations.

Companies involved:

  • Alcon (through the Right to Sight project);
  • Allergan Pharmaceuticals;
  • B. Braun;
  • Envision,
  • Eye Pharma;
  • Gen-Eye;
  • Ophtec;
  • Right to sight;
  • Whetu; and
  • ITEC (private donation by staff).

What is a cataract?

A cataract is an eye condition caused by the obscuring of the lens to hinder a patient’s vision.

The lens is a part of the eye that is normally clear. It helps light rays, which enter the eye through the retina, to focus.

To obtain clear vision through the retina, the parts of the eye in front of the retina – including the lens – must be transparent.

When light reaches the retina, it releases a chemical reaction within the retina. The chemical reaction initiates an electric impulse which is transferred through a nerve point into the brain, which then interprets what the eye is seeing.


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