We are so grateful for the long-standing support of Rayner Intraocular lenses. Thanks to their generous donation of lenses for use in cataract surgery, a recent eye surgical camp in Sri Lanka enabled 73 people living people living with needless sight loss to see clearly once again – restoring not only their health but their dignity and future prospects.
The camp was conducted under the auspices of IMPACT trustee and Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon, Sal Rassam and you can read his account below:
We have all been in a situation where everything around you is falling apart. Your life is disseminating and you are helpless to do anything about it; being vulnerable and scared… certainly that is the situation when you have lost vision in both eyes and the world around you is invisible. You rely on your other senses which may well be in similar dire states and if you are lucky enough to have loved ones how much of their time can they commit looking after you…. That is the feeling of millions of people in underprivileged countries, living not only in a world of poverty and helplessness but the world around them is vague and obscure. We all have a duty to help others and I have been setting up eye camps in such countries since 1998 and my recent trip has been to the Samanala Valley Clinic in Sri Lanka.
The clinic is in the middle of the tea plantations at the heart of beautiful Sri Lanka on top of the mountains; an area of magnificent beauty but fairly isolated with poor transport and limited medical care. One of the reasons that rates of blindness from treatable eye conditions is high is because of exposure to strong sunlight at high altitudes. Many people live in small huts with extended families and very little revenue – barely enough to maintain everyday living, never mind about healthcare provisions. When it comes to healthcare, young people take precedence due to their potential to earn money and so the elderly are treated with least priority. Some of the elderly people live alone as the younger members leave the villages to work in the cities, where there is better income and higher living standards.
The Samanala Valley clinic is run by a group of British and European expats and local volunteers. In collaboration with them, I helped to set up a fully-fledged eye clinic with outpatient facilities, operating theatres and sterilisation units in 2009. We carry out screening clinics, glasses prescribing, anterior segment surgery and laser treatments.
As I do regularly, I went out in January 2020 with my team of two nurses to conduct surgery on patients already screened for us by a resident optician. We managed to operate on 73 patients and apply laser treatment to 3 other patients. Several other patients received medical treatments for infections and glaucoma.
A lot of the supplies needed have been donated by NHS and private clinics including my own clinic with a major contribution from Rayner Intraocular Lenses Ltd, who have donated over 2,000 intraocular lenses to the centre. A small plastic lens that forms a big part of vision correction in cataract surgery. This generous supply will continue to be used in vision correction surgery in the months to come by other local and international surgeons.
Imagine living in a world of vague haze when one day a patch is removed from your eye and the world is bright & clear once again… it begins as a moment of euphoria exploding to massive sensation of joy knowing that now you have control of your own destiny, is nothing short of an exhilaration and big relief.
These are the feeling of these patients the next day after the surgery. I do not speak their language but the smiles on their faces says it all and that moment brings tremendous pleasure in my heart; one action twice the pleasure. These are the stories of two of the patients:
Mr NR is a 64 year old gardener but in the last year he could not work due to limited vision. He had a vision at presentation to the clinic of 6/18 in one eye and Counting Fingers in the other eye. He had surgery to the left eye with a Rayner C-flex intraocular lens and postoperatively he could achieve 6/6 unaided in this eye. He was so pleased with the outcome and now has returned to work as well as helping his family at home. He enjoys seeing and interacting with his grandchildren.
Sri Lanka has no welfare state and therefore people try to work long past their retirement age. Working is their only source of income to support their family. We are planning to operate on his right eye later this year by another team.
Mrs AS is a 55 year old housewife in a tea plantation estate. She had a pre-operative vision of Counting Fingers in one eye and Perception of Light in the other eye. Daily life was extremely difficult and became very limited in her ability to look after the family. She had surgery to the left eye with Rayner Intraocular lens. She managed to achieve 6/6 vision unaided after the surgery. She was overjoyed at being able to see again and can now be much more independent. She was surprised at all the colours, when she looked out of the clinic window at the flowers and trees outside the clinic. She has to walk quite a distance to the shops and other facilities and since her surgery she can once again help in managing her home and cooking. We hope to operate on her right eye later this year.
Thank you! This work would not have been possible without the massive contribution of Rayner Intraocular lenses and through IMPACT UK