Fortune Mamogobo, 16, one of the patients who underwent free cataract removal surgery to mark World Sight Day. Thobile Mathonsi African News Agency (ANA)
Pretoria - World Sight Day yesterday brought joy to 160 patients who were given the gift of sight through successful surgeries performed by various ophthalmologists at the Eye Institute in Pretoria.

The operations were part of the hospital’s Unclouding Cataracts campaign and included free cataract removal surgery.

More than 3 000 patients have benefited from the campaign over the years. Most of the patients operated on this year were from old-age homes across the city.

The youngest, Fortune Mamogobo, 16, from Lotus Garden was born with a cataract in his left eye. It was discovered when an optometrist visited his school in August.

Ophthalmic surgeon Dr Mathabo Mofokeng performs surgery to remove cataracts from a patient at the Eye Institute in Pretoria. Video: Rudzani Matshili

Cataracts are formed by the clouding of the normally transparent crystalline lens in the eye, causing blurry vision. Unlike others who had their vision completely blurred, Mamogobo could still see. “I’m very happy. My eye couldn’t see properly even when wearing glasses and now I will be able to play soccer well,” he said.

Ophthalmic surgeon Dr Sanushka Moodley said the day was more about raising awareness about cataracts. She said they had started at 8am and there were five theatres doing surgeries.

“We are honouring World Sight Day by doing pro bono cataract surgeries for our patients who can’t afford to get surgery done. A lot of our patients present late because they are very scared of the unknown. A lot of our patients could have had the procedure done a long time ago but they haven't because of late presentation, it makes the operation a bit difficult so creating awareness around cataracts is important.

“Cataracts are reversible. As long as you don’t have other diseases,” she said.

The patients were able to see clearly almost immediately after surgery, depending on how bad the cataract was. They have a waiting list of 500 patients that grows daily. “This may sound like a source of concern, which it is, but above all, it motivates and inspires us and many other stakeholders to try even harder to keep on giving the gift of sight,” Moodley said.

Pretoria News