Seven-month-old twins Samlan and Sintham are from a remote village in northern Laos called Art Nam. The boys were born blind from cataract, and without a sight saving operation, they could have been blind for life. Our surgeons had never operated on patients so young.
Cataract is the leading cause of blindness worldwide and in developing countries 4 out of 5 people who are blind don’t need to be. In most cases, cataract blindness can be fixed with a simple 20 minute operation. While cataract surgery on children’s eyes is more complicated, it can be done and early intervention is vital.
Fred believed in imparting skills to local communities so they could help themselves. That’s why the training of surgeons who can perform this kind of specialised surgery, as well as general cataract surgery, is crucial. This is where The Fred Hollows Foundation concentrates its efforts and proof of this important work is in the wonderful story of Samlan and Sintham.
The cataract operation on the boys was a true test of skill and it was the first of its kind in Laos. When the patches came off, there was so much joy in the room as Samlan and Sintham were able to follow the doctor’s torch and see their first toy, a little red police car.
Thanks to the support of people like you, we can work in Laos to support local eye surgeons, nurses and health workers with the training to help improve eye health and to make operations like this possible.