Going great distances to find those at risk of blindness
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Our successful survey programs need dedicated people like Evelyne – and our donors!
Our successful survey programs need dedicated people like Evelyne – and our donors!

Evelyne, 28, is a wife, mother of three, and one of our most successful volunteers in her region of Kenya. As a Trachomatous Trichiasis (TT) case finder, Evelyne and a team of women and men travel long distances across Narok district’s dusty plains. When they reach tiny remote villages, the team goes door-to-door to identify, counsel and refer for surgery anyone suffering from blinding trachoma.

Trachoma is a bacterial infection that, if left untreated, causes the eyelid to turn inward and the eyelashes to rub the eyeball, which scars the cornea and ultimately leads to agonizing pain and irreversible blindness. But a patient’s remaining vision can be preserved with early diagnosis and surgery.

In some cases, Evelyne faces fear and mistrust from villagers (mostly from men), but thanks to the training our staff provided, she’s often able to convince them that surgery is needed. “I encourage those who’ve had successful surgeries to be ambassadors,” she says. “They can convince other patients that the surgery is safe and that it will change their lives.”

Trachoma is a leading cause of blindness in places like Kenya’s Narok County, where we’ve been working since 2006. (Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org)
Trachoma is a leading cause of blindness in places like Kenya’s Narok County, where we’ve been working since 2006. (Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org)

Since Evelyne was trained as a case finder last year, she’s referred 16 TT patients for surgery, all of whom were confirmed cases who have since been operated upon. To date, only one patient among those she’s identified has refused surgery. Since many villagers are fearful of any surgery, her success rate is considered remarkable. In fact, word has spread about her good work and villagers are now looking for her!

Evelyne says love for her people fuels her work. “Recently, two women were on the verge of losing their sight but through surgeries, they’ve fully gained their vision. These stories keep me motivated.”

She’s grateful to Operation Eyesight’s kind-hearted donors who are contributing to the fight against blindness in Kenya. “Thank you!”

Tune back next week to learn more about our innovative door-to-door approach to eye health.