Reggie’s father had died soon after losing his sight. As Reggie’s sight deteriorated, he feared the same thing would happen to him, before he’d passed on his knowledge to the next generation.
As one of the traditional owners of Uluru and an Aboriginal elder, Reggie knows how vital it is to share his knowledge to preserve important Indigenous culture. However, his sight was failing him.
So Reggie travelled to Alice Springs for one of The Foundation’s week long intensive surgery sessions for people in remote areas of Australia. With several issues in both eyes, Dr Tim Henderson, the ophthalmologist who treated Reggie, had to carefully weigh up what procedure he should perform.
Reggie was developing a cataract
. If left untreated, this would grow and he’d eventually go blind in that eye. Reggie’s other eye had trachoma
and urgently needed an eyelid operation. Trachoma causes the eyelashes to grow inwards and is extremely painful. The eyelashes scratch the eye, causing ulceration and scarring of the cornea – which leads to irreversible blindness if untreated.
If Dr Henderson did both, Reggie would be out of action for a while.
The patients you are restoring sight for are often responsible for passing on all the men's business, women's business and maintaining Aboriginal culture. If they can't see to do that they can't show important areas and sites.
- Ophthalmologist, Dr Tim Henderson
Dr Henderson decided to treat Reggie for trachoma first; however, the operation wasn’t simple as Reggie’s condition was very advanced – almost beyond treatment. In city hospitals, 1 in 50 cases are as difficult as Reggie’s. But in remote Australia, it’s 1 in 5.
The day the patch came off, a big grin spread across Reggie’s face. Fortunately, the operation went well and his eye recovered.