Satyavathi receives the gift of sight

Stories | November 17, 2021

Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness around the world, affecting some 20 million people, the majority of whom live in developing countries. For those unable to access or afford surgical interventions, the loss of vision has the potential to significantly impact daily life, from being able to earn an income and receive an education, to their movement and independence. For many, it means a life of hardship. However, as 70-year-old Satyavathi from India found out, this does not have to be the case. This is because in many circumstances vision loss caused by cataracts can be reversed with surgical treatment

Satyavathi lived in a small hut in the coastal region of East Godhavari. After losing her husband and saying goodbye to her two children, who both married and moved away, Satyavathi had been living on her own, supporting herself with the income earned from working on a nearby farm. Satyavathi begun to notice changes in her vision. She started finding it difficult to identify people and complete her work. Eventually her employer refused to give her work because of her poor vision.

With numerous local government hospitals closing or offering limited services due to Covid-19, Satyavathi begun to wonder where she could find help. She did not want to continue relying on her neighbours for food. Eventually she was able to travel to Kakinada where she was assessed and referred to the Srikiran Eye hospital for further examination and surgery. CBM had been working to improve the lives of people with disabilities in India by supporting the Sankurathri Foundation’s Srikiran Hospital to increase access to free, quality eye care and rehabilitation services.

Satyavathi was told she had cataracts in both eyes and would need surgery. However, with no income, Satyavathi begun to cry, saying that she could not afford the surgery. The hospital counsellor then assured her that the hospital would perform the surgery free of charge. Relieved, Satyavathi agreed to undergo surgery the following day.

After the operation, doctors removed Satyavathi’s eye patch and, although not perfect, she was finally able to see again. With a big smile, Satyavathi thanked all the doctors, staff, operation theatre personnel and CBM for her cataract surgery.

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