A family’s fight against cataract

September 29, 2015 1:13 pm

, NANDI-CATARACT-FAMILYNAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 29 – Emmanuel Melly is at the productive age of 44 years, where as a father, he is supposed to cater for his eight children and his aging parents.

Melly, a resident of KapKitany location within Nandi County hopes that he can help brighten the future of his family but a major hurdle has impaired his vision of achieving this.

Other than being asthmatic, he is suffering from cataract.

Cataracts are cloudy patches that develop in the lens of the eye and can cause blurred or misty vision.

In some people, cataracts develop in the lens as they get older; stopping some of the light from reaching the back of the eye, but Melly is a worried man since four of his eight children are also suffering from the same disease.

“I am very sad. The disease stopped me from pursuing my studies after my class eight exam; I don’t want the same fate to befall my children,” Melly told Capital FM News.

Being a farmer, Melly is aware that it will be hard to correct the condition due to the amount of money needed.

Just like any other parent, he wants his children to receive treatment first.

“One of my daughters wants to become an ophthalmologist but she needs her eyes,” after a long stare, Melly said while cuddling his four-year-old son, who also has cataracts.

The only treatment that is proven to be effective for cataracts is surgery according to Mercy Mbai, an ophthalmic nurse at the Sabatia Eye Hospital an independent non-profit hospital located in Vihiga County.

This will usually be recommended if your loss of vision has a significant effect on your daily activities, such as driving or reading.

The four children have undergone surgery at a subsidised price at the Sabatia Eye Hospital but only one has the recommended spectacles, which are replaceable after two years.

“Money has been the issue…I would love to see them happy and playing just like any other kid in the village,” Susan Melly, the mother of the children said.

The family is just an example of the many cases in the country of cataracts which have either been ignored or those suffering lack the finances to seek medication.

A few kilometers from Melly’s home, another family is celebrating the recovery of their children who were suffering from cataracts.

Their mother Faith Chelimo believes, “that my children will now have a bright future. Clinton (one of her son) wants to become a pilot. He needs the eyes if he will achieve his dream.”

For Faith Misik, their 65-year-old grandmother, her joy is that, “my grandchildren will now become educated and become great people in the country.”

For Melly’s family and over 10,000 people suffering from cataracts in the country per year, there is hope if a campaign driven by Christoffel Blindenmision (CBM) meant to fight the menace succeeds.

CBM is an international non-governmental organisation that “is committed to improving the quality of life of persons with disabilities in the poorest countries in the world.”

Eric Limiri, the Fundraising and Communication Officer at CBM points out that, “over 50 percent of all avoidable blindness is caused by cataracts which can be cleared by a simple 15 minute surgery.”

Ahead of World Sight Day on October 8, he says the organisation intends to raise Sh5 million in a bid to help 250 children in the country.

“We need help to transform the lives of these children and their families…they are our future leaders,” he appealed.

Cataracts affects sight in the following ways: you may find it more difficult to see in dim or very bright light, the glare from bright lights may be dazzling or uncomfortable to look at while colours may look faded or less clear.

To offer financial help, Kenyans can contribute through Mpesa pay bill number 574743. The surgeries will be carried out at PCEA Kikuyu Eye Unit, Tenwek Hospital Eye Unit in Bomet County and Kwale District Eye Center.

Lighthouse for Christ Eye Centre in Mombasa and Sabatia Eye Hospital in Vihiga County will also offer the services.

The cost per cataract surgery is Sh20, 000, amount humble families cannot afford.


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