How Cataract Surgery Restored Takia’s Sight

950,000 people live with blindness in Bangladesh. With only one ophthalmologists for every 140,000 people, accessing eye care is often a struggle.

Takia’s family live in the Chandpur region of Bangladesh. Along with 7-year-old Takia, there is her father Ibrahim, mother Hawa and her two older sisters.

When Takia developed vision issues her parents were filled with worry and uncertainty.

“We noticed seven to eight months ago that our daughter cannot see properly,” Hawa recalled. “She could not see small letters in her books. Also, when she ate, she could not see if the rice fell off the plate.”

Takia with her mother Hawa at home in Bangladesh.

Takia’s eyesight issues meant that she needed assistance carrying out day to day tasks. Unable to follow her lessons, she soon dropped out of school.

The cataracts impacting her vision also made it hard for her to play with children her own age and she was also mocked by them. Takia’s mother shared that this has given her an inferiority complex and has socially isolated her.

“I was extremely worried for her. “What if my child cannot live a happy life” is the worst kind of thought a mother can have,” confided Hawa. “All I could think about was how my daughter would live her life, get educated and live on her own.”

Orbis Women-Led Green Vision Centre

Takia’s future started to look a bit brighter when Hawa took her daughter to get her eyes tested at a Women-Led Green Vision Centre in their local area.

“Upon reaching the camp, they examined her eyes and told us that she had cataracts and scheduled a date for us to visit the vision centre for further examinations. They then referred us to Mazharul Haque BNSB Eye Hospital for Takia’s first surgery.”

Takia got her eyes tested at a Women-Led Green Vision Centre.

Yet for many women and girls across the globe, accessing these services would not have been possible.

Lack of access to household finances, travel concerns, extra household responsibilities, plus concerns over being treated by male health practitioners are just some of the additional obstacles women face when seeking eye care.

Orbis Women-Led Green Vision Centres are women-friendly and solar-powered. They are designed to remove barriers to eyecare for women, as well as ensure the lights stay on during frequent power cuts.

Hawa said:

It made me feel more com­fort­able with the vision cen­tre being run by a woman. It is eas­i­er to open up to them and say every­thing in detail freely. It is also eas­i­er for the female doc­tor to exam­ine female patients’ eyes by com­ing close to the patients. If it were a male doc­tor, no woman in our area would be com­fort­able with him being so close.”

Before Orbis began working in Takia’s local area, there were no eye care services. The only way that people in the local area could access eye care was by travelling long distances to Chandpur district headquarters or another city. A lot of people in the local area are not financially able to afford the long journey, which led to a lot of people having no choice but to live with vision problems.

Hope After Cataract Surgery

As Takia’s bandages are removed after her surgery, her smile lights up the room. She exclaimed:

I am see­ing every­thing more clear­ly now after a long peri­od. I am feel­ing so hap­py that I will be able to return to my studies.”

Takia’s whole family could not wait to for the moment she could see more clearly, and hope that as her treatment progresses, her eyesight will improve even more.

This April, Takia will be celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr with her family. For them, the whole month of Ramadan is a celebration because every day the family gathers to have Iftar and break their fast after sunset, which Takia enjoys a lot.

In 2023, Takia struggled to enjoy Eid celebrations as her eyesight struggles made her feel inferior to others, and meant she spent much of the celebrations by herself.

However, Takia’s surgery and improved vision has given her family much hope that she will be much more involved this year.

“I hope my daughter’s sight will be fully restored after the second surgery and she will be able to enjoy this year’s Eid to the fullest. And if so, this year’s Eid is going to be special for our family.”

Save sight this Ramadan

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