Armon’s Story: A miracle of sight for a young father

Stories | July 5, 2023 | Author: Mariska Meldrum, CBM Campaign Manager

The birth of a child is one of the most special moments a parent will witness. But after losing his sight to cataracts, Armon a young father from the Philippines, faced missing not only the birth of his second child, but seeing both his children grow up.

Working in a call centre, Armon had noticed his vision beginning to blur. But it wasn’t until he had a motorcycle accident that a doctor examined Armon and told him the devastating news. He had developed cataracts in both eyes.
Without surgery to remove the cataracts, Armon would live the rest of his life blind.
Vision impairment and blindness are among the top health concerns in the Philippines, with an estimated 1.24 million Filipinos living with cataracts. In a country where 18% of the population live below the poverty line, many people cannot access treatment and live needlessly blind.
“The cost [of cataract surgery] is equivalent to 100 sacks of rice,” explains Charity, an eye health worker for CBM’s field partner in the Philippines. She says that for a family struggling to provide enough for their family to eat, the cost of cataract surgery is simply out of reach.

Unable to work until his cataracts were removed, Armon found himself no longer able to provide for his pregnant wife and four-year-old son. He and his wife had been living with his wife’s family but, not wanting to burden them further, Armon moved out.

“It is difficult for us to be together,” he said. “Because of my condition and because she’s pregnant, she’s not able to care for me and I’m not able to care for her. So that’s why we have to be apart, and I ask my siblings to take care of me instead.”

“I don’t want to be a burden to her and her family.”

In a country like the Philippines, many people blind from cataracts live in regional or remote areas. CBM’s field partner provide outreach missions – setting up eye screening camps in local town halls, schools, or other buildings and, with the support of the department of health, performing surgeries in local health clinics or hospitals.
With just months until his wife’s due date, 27-year-old Armon heard about a free eye screening outreach being held in his community.

Despite his father having just passed away, Armon was determined to go – knowing his father would want him to do whatever he could to see again, even though it meant missing his funeral. His family agreed that it was more important he could see in time for his baby’s birth.

Photo of Armon at eye screening

After his eyes were examined, Armon received the news that he could have free cataract surgery the following day. Thanks to the support of CBM and generous Australians, Armon’s life was about to change.
“This will be a big change, a big difference in my life because the Lord is giving me another chance to see,” he said.

Photo of Armon on operating table

The next morning, after being prepped for surgery at the eye health clinic, Armon nervously lay on the operating table ready for ophthalmologist Dr Reden to remove his cataracts. He couldn’t have been in better hands, with Dr Reden having been dubbed an ‘eye health hero’ of the Philippines by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness. “My passion is to give sight back to the poor and give them a second chance in life,” Dr Reden says. Around 12 minutes later, Dr Reden had removed Armon’s cataracts and inserted artificial lenses, which typically last a lifetime. Sitting up, Armon blinked his eyes and looked out a window. With a joyful exclamation, and a huge smile of his face, he told Dr Reden and the theatre staff that he could see!

Picture of Armon leaving operating theatre, able to see

After examining Armon’s eyes the next day, Dr Reden announced that his eyes were in great shape and that he’d be able to return to work soon – and witness the birth of his baby!

Post surgery examination (above)

“I’m so very thankful,” he told CBM workers straight after the surgery. “I am excited to see my child and my wife.”

“I always pray that I can see again. And I was very, very thankful because God give me this. And I am so blessed.”

A World Health Organisation report on vision estimates that at least 2.2 billion people live with vision impairment or blindness. It also found at least 1 billion of those cases either could have been prevented or are yet to be treated. Cataracts are one of the leading causes and they affect about 100 million people.

Unfortunately, most people with cataracts live in developing countries. Even though 90 per cent of vision loss is preventable or treatable, many remain blind because they cannot afford the treatment.

That’s why CBM started Miracles Day, an annual fundraiser asking Australians to give the Miracle gift of sight-saving surgery for just $33. It’s been running for 11 years and in that time, Australians have given more than 400,000 gifts of sight to people living in the world’s poorest places.

“We are asking Australians to show their generosity again this year,” said CBM CEO Jane Edge.

“Miracles Day gives us the opportunity to help change someone’s life for less than it would cost to go out for a movie or a meal with a friend. For many of us, it’s a small sacrifice, but one that has a huge impact.”

CBM provides eye screening, examination, treatment, and surgeries to hundreds of thousands of people in Nepal, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria and Bangladesh, as well as the Philippines. Its programs focus on strengthening local health systems to ensure sustainable change, improving long-term health outcomes in these countries.

Armon can see again after successful cataract surgery


CBM acknowledges the support of the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).


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