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Age-related cataracts are responsible for 48% of world blindness. Yet a simple operation can restore a person’s sight – and their return to independence can mean so much, both financially and emotionally.
Parvathi 65, benefited from cataract surgery. She washes dishes in a hotel, working a six-hour shift to earn 750 rupees (£11) per month. ‘A year and a half ago I noticed problems with my vision. It became really bad about a year ago. I couldn’t see clearly and had watering eyes.’
Because of the discharge from her eye, Parvathi missed work and lost income. ‘Even if I was on a bus, people would move away from me. They wouldn’t sit next to me, or they would tell me to move.’
When the Sponsor a Grandparent supported health team announced in Parvathi’s village that cataract operations would be provided free, she took up the offer.
‘Before the surgery I couldn’t see light and everything was blurry’, recalls Parvathi. ‘The operation took about 30 minutes and was free of charge. The hospital took me from the village on a bus to the hospital and brought me home. Now I can see much better and the discharge has also stopped. Today, I will go back to my job. The people also do not look at me differently now.’
In India, our ophthalmic programme, Rays of Hope, is restoring the vision of 5,000 older people by providing free cataract operations, and offering ophthalmic health education. When eyesight has been restored, older people are also offered training on income-generating activities so that they can make a living.
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