Kashinath, recently appointed as our Senior Director of International Programs, was told this heartwarming story by Dr. Santosh Moses, Country Manager, India.
Never did Bonny Gideon and his wife Nagamani imagine that their future would be dependent upon the tiny hands that they held to teach baby steps.
The couple live in the village of Pangidigudem, located in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, where Bonny works at a non-governmental organization. Both husband and wife suffer from vision-related problems: Bonny has cataract and several other eye issues, and Nagamani suffers from night blindness. Unfortunately, their conditions are irreversible.
On the advice of some friends, they have been treated at the Bob Ohlson Centre for Sight Enhancement at Operation Eyesight’s partner LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) in Visakhapatnam. The centre was established for rehabilitation treatment in 2006 with support from Operation Eyesight.
About six years ago, Nagamani and Bonny became proud parents of a daughter whom they named Smiley. But when they were told that their baby was also blind from cataract, their dreams came crashing down. They were devastated at the thought of their child facing the same fate that they suffered. Fortunately, local doctors, whom they consulted first, urged them to take their baby to LVPEI when she was only four months old.
When Dr. Avinash Pathengay saw the little family in the outpatient department, he stopped by to enquire about their wellbeing. When he learned that they were there not for themselves, but for their tiny daughter, he reassured the worried parents that
Smiley’s vision-related challenges were only temporary.
With their worries allayed by Dr. Avinash and the counselor, Smiley underwent surgery to remove the cataracts in her eyes. A month after surgery, she regained her vision completely. Today, at almost six years old, she is able to perform tasks similar to other children her age, and also attend school. She continues to visit the Bob Ohlson Centre for Sight Enhancement for follow-up treatment, and is a familiar sight to the staff of the centre.
“Smiley is using vision correction glasses as the doctor advised, attending school and helping her mother when she returns home,” says the happy father. “She reads the names of places and the numbers on the bus for us when we go out. She talks incessantly about the posters on the walls, and tells us about whatever is happening around us all along our way.
“She is the anchor to our lives; she is our eyes!”
Cataracts don’t discriminate; the vision-clouding condition can lead to blindness in tiny babies, children, adults and seniors alike. Fortunately, the solution is relatively simple! Learn how you can help.