“Too Poor To See”

Nepali woman working in the field

Despite often taking it for granted, most of us prize our sight above our other senses.

When we pause to consider how fortunate we are to see the world around us, we probably think – if we were ever forced to make such a choice -that we would rather live in a silent world than a dark one.

That said, we probably never consider that we could be labelled “functioning disabled” if we rely on seeing  aids such as glasses or contact lenses  to correct our visual problems.

Without glasses or contact lenses, if your computer screen becomes an impossible foggy blur, the road ahead an unknown outline, the telephone a useless tool, then you must admit that you rely on some sort of help to go about your daily life and to earn a living. Without this “help” you couldn´t function properly.

It only takes a few minutes of being parted from your glasses, or not being able to use contact lenses, to appreciate how heavily reliant you are. This is highlighted by one London Vision Clinic patient who decided to have Laser Eye Surgery grovelling on the floor of his car after a rear shunt accident. In the impact, his specs had been thrown on the floor and, unhurt, he was trying to find them; but, without them, he couldn´t see anything. This was his personal epiphany.

But to all of us who have access to a computer and are able to read this article, these issues are little more than an inconvenience – something we can either put up with or correct easily with Laser Eye Surgery. In the developing world, it is a different story.

For people living there – as well as blindness – diminishing or poor eye sight means that you can no longer work. Not for them decisions about contact lenses versus glasses or selecting flattering frames – there are no glasses. They cannot see and there is no help.

If it becomes impossible to see to weave a carpet, to sow seeds, to gather the harvest, to help with household tasks, you cannot work. Not only can you no longer support your family, you become a heavy burden on their limited and already stretched resources.

At the launch of the London Vision Clinic Foundation we were given a small taste of what life is like for such people living in remote and isolated areas of Nepal. A short film told the story an elderly lady – Chandra Maya – who was blinded by cataracts. “My life is bitter”, she repeated poignantly.

The film introduced Dr. Sanduk Ruit telling of his amazing work and how he and his team were able to restore the sight of Chandra Maya and so many others.