There is an exceptionally large number of blind people in Swaziland. Cataracts are often the cause of blindness.
Cataracts are most common in
older people. The patient’s sight is blurred as if looking through a
veil which becomes denser over the course of time. Eventually, the eye
can only distinguish between light and dark or becomes completely blind.
Even children can be affected by cataracts. In such cases, the lens of the child’s eye may be 'cloudy' since birth.
Operation is the Only Hope
An operation is the
only cure for a cataract. The cloudy lens of the eye can be replaced by
an artificial lens. “The surgery only takes about 15 minutes, but for
many people this operation is too expensive,” says Dr. Roger Pacholka.
“In many cases, the patients also live too far away from an eye clinic.”
For its outreaches into
rural Swaziland, Mercy Air is partnering with a team from Good Shepherd
Hospital. Due to its ideal location in Siteki, the hospital also serves
as a temporary flight base. Dr. Jono Pons, a South African eye surgeon,
runs this hospital which specialises in the treatment of eye diseases.
For the Mercy Air team.