Trachoma patient Aylito, Ethiopia, in 2018

Patient stories: treating Aylito, Ethiopia, for trachoma

Aylito underwent trachoma surgery in 2013 to save the sight in her right eye. We caught up with her in 2018, five years on, to try and understand the effect that this Orbis intervention has had on her life.

When we first met Aylito five years ago, she was blind in her left eye and at risk of losing the sight in the other due to trachoma. Luckily, Aylito had Orbis-supported sight-saving surgery in time.

We visit her five years on; we meet her near a water point, near enough to a main road, and she leads us to her home. It’s a ten minute walk at least, and not an easy one; a steep, unsteady climb, with steps here and there, on an extremely narrow path. It’s hard to imagine this would be possible without your sight.

Her home consists of two small traditional huts and a small yard. It is surrounded by a wooden fence, and moringa trees grow near the door. Two of Aylito’s seven children greet us, as well as a tiny kid goat.

Aylito is a housewife, and cares for her children, but before her operation, this was becoming impossible. She says: "I used to struggle with my vision before I had surgery with the help of Orbis. It started with some pain, then the pain became severe, like a sharp object was planted inside my eye. I found it very hard to do any of the household chores with a constant pain in my eye."

Trachoma patient Aylito, Ethiopia, hugs two of her children, grinning at the camera

Aylito with two of her children

Despite seeking treatment, eventually Aylito’s condition worsened: “I used eye drops for a while but with no improvement. I could not carry out the household chores. When the pain become intolerable, I would stop doing anything at all.”

An Orbis-trained Integrated Eye Care Worker met her just in time, and encouraged her to have surgery. Since then, she tells us happily, she has had no problems with her vision at all. And she is careful to maintain this healthy vision, for herself and her family, and encourages hygiene to stop infection: “Every morning and after returning from using a toilet, I encourage them to wash their face and hands with soap.”

It’s clear that the surgery has helped ease Aylito’s life - it would have been a very different story had she become blind. It seems that the most important thing for her, like most other mothers, is that she is able to care for her children: “Now I am enjoying my healthy vision. For this, I am living with my children with peace.”

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