Avoidable Blindness Initiative saving sight in Cambodia

Cambodian student Long Samphors recently underwent life-changing cataract surgery, after local health workers conducted an eye screening program in his village.

Over the past year, 195 community health workers in Cambodia’s Kampong Chhnang Province have received primary eye care training. The Foundation has provided this support through the Avoidable Blindness Initiative (ABI). The workers can now conduct regular eye screenings in poor and hard-to-reach villages.

Fourteen-year-old Samphors’ life took a dramatic turn after he was screened by one of the newly trained village health workers, who immediately diagnosed cataract in both eyes.

Born with the cataracts, Samphors’ sight had been diminishing rapidly every year.

He enjoyed school, but his blurry vision meant classmates had to read to him from the blackboard. He could only write with his eyes pressed right up next to the page.

Usually someone in Samphors’ family took him to school. But one day, when everyone was too busy in the rice fields, he tried to cycle.  On the way, Samphors ran into a parked vehicle. From then on, if no one was free to take Samphors to school, he stayed home.

Samphors’ mother said: “I was sad when I saw my child become blind … [but]… I didn’t know what eye care services were available”.

Soon after his screening, Samphors underwent surgery at the Kampong Chhnang Provincial Eye Unit. The facility, which opened late last year, was also funded with support from the ABI.

Samphors has a newfound independence following his successful surgery. He can now make his own way to school, read and write and help his mother with jobs around the home. His mother said: “My son has started to help with some work at home. I have no more worry about Samphors as he can do tasks himself.”

Over the past year 3,376 people in Kampong Chhnang Province have had their eyes examined by outreach health workers.

>Find out more about our Cambodia program.
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