Le Van Pho, aged 72, lives in a hamlet in the Quang Tri Province of central Vietnam. After he lost his sight it seemed to Pho that an invisible hand was hiding everything from him. He could no longer see the beautiful colours of nature and there was a strange whiteness wherever he looked.
Pho's whole life had changed. While he had slightly better vision in his left eye, he could not see further than one metre away. He lost interest in one of his favourite hobbies, reading books, as he had to change glasses many times to adjust to his rapidly deteriorating eye sight.
Pho was depressed at not being able to do the things he enjoyed and was resigned to the hardships of blindness. That was until he heard a television news program talking about eye treatment and surgery being offered in his local district.
Like many in his hamlet, Pho was doubtful about treatments for blindness. He believed that an eye operation would be painful and that it would be very costly.
Despite this, and knowing that his only other option was to live without sight, he decided to visit the clinic anyway. He had nothing to lose.
At the clinic, the doctors examined Pho and concluded that he was suffering from cataract blindness. They advised him that he needed surgical treatment. Thanks to the doctors' thorough explanation, Pho overcame his fears and agreed to have surgery.
Following a cataract operation which involved the implantation of an intraocular lens, Pho quickly regained normal vision in his right eye. Without hesitation, he decided to have an operation on his left eye.
Two months after his surgery, Pho was delighted with the clarity of his vision and wanted to personally thank the surgeons and The Fred Hollows Foundation.
"They brought valuable light back to me for the rest of my life. This is like a dream I never thought about before. I will never forget this," Pho said.
Many people in Vietnam are living with treatable cataract blindness. The late Professor Fred Hollows became committed to helping the blind in Vietnam after he first visited the country in 1992.
At that time, only 100 cataract operations were being performed each year in the entire country.
Now, through the work of The Fred Hollows Foundation, in partnership with the Vietnamese health sector and other dedicated organisations, more than 100,000 operations are performed each year.
Following the success of his own operations, Le Van Pho set about spreading the good news about the eye clinic. He walked around nearby villages and hamlets to encourage others to have the operation and to help dispel their fears about the pain and cost of surgery.
Pho's reassurance and the example of his own restored sight was enough to persuade his neighbours. The number of local people having surgery increased rapidly and eye operations became one of the most common topics of conversation amongst elderly people in Pho's district.
The Fred Hollows Foundation initiated a Comprehensive Eye Care pilot project in the Quang Tri Province, home to Le Van Pho, between 2002 and 2004.
This successful pilot has now become the Central Provinces Community Based Eye Care Project, expanding eye care and surgery into other provinces of Vietnam.