A sight to behold

Stories | May 31, 2019

“I cannot believe it! Both my eyes can see now.”

Yudaya, Uganda

Yudaya had waited a long time for this moment. Before receiving surgeries to remove cataracts from both her eyes, Yudaya had spent her days listening to an old black radio and praying for her sight to be restored.

Yudaya sitting her home listening to the radio before her sight was restored

The afternoon before surgery on her left eye, she arrived at the Mengo Eye Department with her grandson Ahmed. The Mengo Eye Department is a CBM partner in Uganda that restores sight to many patients in Yudaya’s position.

Yudaya and Ahmed headed straight to the ward, where a nurse assured her that surgery was scheduled for the next day.

“For all the years I have had the cataracts in my eyes, I felt excluded from the rest of the world”, Yudaya said.

Yudaya’s exclusion was in part because, during the day, she could hear her neighbours talking but could not join in. This is because of some of the stereotypes and perceptions of older blind people in Uganda. Yudaya said she thought that if she tried to enter into their conversations, people may ask why she was so interested.

When Yudaya’s son was alive, he had taken her to different places to try to restore her sight.

“I applied traditional herbs, went to Entebbe Hospital, I was given eye drops but my sight got worse”, Yudaya said. “My son had promised to bring me to Mengo Hospital where eye specialists are but he could not because he [passed away].”

Road sign pointing to Mengo eye department where Yudaya had operations to restore her sight

Yudaya’s first surgery

Once Yudaya was in theatre and anaesthetised, Dr Lisbon took about twenty minutes to remove her cloudy left cataract. He then implanted an artificial lens into her left eye and put an eyepatch over it.

After the operation, Yudaya’s nurse Fred took her hand and guided her into the waiting area. Ahmed, who had been waiting anxiously for her grandmother, was excited to see her.

“I am so happy she is alive and the operation is completed. I pray that she gets back her sight.”

Ahmed, Uganda

The nurse in charge of Yudaya’s ward gently removed her eyepatch, cleaned her eye then said “Mama, open your eye.”

Yudaya opened her eye, and Ahmed was overjoyed when she recognised him.

“Yes, she can see!” Ahmed exclaimed.

“The operation went well”, Dr Lisbon said. “In the coming weeks, we expect more improvement in her vision. We shall perform the next surgery when her left eye has healed.”

He advised Yudaya to take her eye drops as prescribed, and told her how important it was to maintain good hygiene.

Nurse testing Yudaya's sight after surgery

One week after surgery, Yudaya returned to the Mengo Hospital eye department for a routine review. Before the surgery, Yudaya could see nothing with her left eye. Now, she had a vision of 6/30 in this eye. This means that what a healthy eye can see at thirty metres, she could now see at six.

“So much has changed! I can wash utensils, when I eat I can see the food.”

Yudaya’s second surgery

It was 6.30am the morning after Yudaya’s second surgery: this time, on her right eye. If this surgery had been successful, it would mean she would be able to see from both eyes.

A nurse gently removed Yudaya’s eyepatch, and she slowly opened her right eye.

“I cannot believe it! Both my eyes can see now”, Yudaya said.

Dr Lisbon examined her right eye, then told Yudaya that not only was the operation a success, but that there would be more improvement over the coming weeks.

“I really wanted this grandma to see”, Dr Lisbon said. “I am so happy that she will live her remaining life on earth happily with her grandchildren.”

As for Yudaya, she was delighted that she had been given the opportunity to see her grandson Ahmed and two granddaughters.

“I thank Mengo for giving me a chance to see again.”


Yudaya smiling outside with her arms in the air after surgeries had restored sight in both her eyes
.Yudaya after her second cataract surgery

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