Eye patient Obito, wearing an eye patch, stands by a wall at the Zadah Health Centre

Patient stories: treating Obito, Ethiopia, for trachoma

November 2018

Eight years ago, Obito underwent surgery to treat trachomatous trichiasis. Unfortunately, she has caught it again, this time in her right eye.

Obito, mother to Habte, 10, and Elsa, 2, has had trachoma for a long time. It started when she was 17 or 18.

Husband Salfago explains: “It was really bad for her. When we got together, it was coming and going. When we thought she was feeling better, it would come again, aggressively. Orbis came to our district, and she got her surgery. She had a very bad infection that time; both of her eyes were all itchy and very badly infected."

If a person suffers from repeated trachoma infections, the inside of their eyelid will become scarred and their eyelashes will turn inward, eventually blinding them; it's incredibly painful.

Ethiopian trachoma patient Obito with her family

Obito and her family outside their home

Obito previously underwent surgery to bring the eyelashes out, relieving her pain, stopping the tearing and helping her see more clearly.

However, she has caught trachoma again, and suffers from side effects including photophobia, which is so bad that she has to cover her eyes and look down at the ground when she is outside. She cannot go to the market or to any social events.

She says: "It’s very challenging to work. I care for my children, I prepare food for my children and for my husband, I wash my children’s clothes and my husband’s. This is affecting my daily activities."

Obito Ethiopia Martin Kharumwa Trachoma Surgery

Obito undergoing surgery from Integrated Eye Care Worker Abiyot

At her follow-up with Orbis-trained Integrated Eye Care Worker Tsehay, who performed Obito's surgery, her eye is healing well and Obito says she has already noticed a difference: "I am OK again! I can do my routine activities.”

Salfago has been taking care of Obito since she had surgery, but says that "as long as we do things in a team, nothing is impossible.”

He adds: “We love Orbis and how they come to our community to make sure that we have the treatment we deserve. We know you're coming here for a good cause, and we appreciate that."

Obito agrees: "Thank you very much."

Trachoma patient Obito working with vegetables in a plot of land

Obito at work post-surgery