Patient Stories

Luke’s story

After 20 long years of blindness, Luke thought he would never see again.

A wonderful man in his seventies, Luke had been blind for over 20 years by the time we restored his sight.

When videographer Krissy Dwyer first met Luke he had milky, sight-robbing cataracts. His blindness made him hunch over and start fearfully at any unexpected noise. He stayed at home and would often get lost in his family's garden.

Luke was a patient at our clinic in the Solomon Islands. The clinic was built with the support of generous Kiwis like you.

For decades, Luke had been his family's caregiver. He looked after his wife, his children, and his grandchildren. He fished, tended his garden, and was the one others turned to for support. But when he was in his fifties his vision began to get cloudy.

Luke says it was “the wet, the sand, the water” that did it, but we know that most cataracts come about as a result of age. Here in New Zealand he could’ve gone to the eye doctor for surgery and continued to live a full life. But in Kolombangara Vao there was no eye doctor and no money for an appointment, much less an operation.

With the support of thousands of Kiwis, we train local eye doctors and nurses to become eye care specialists and send outreach teams into remote communities to restore sight. One of those local nurses travelled to Luke’s village to examine him. She told him that if he could get to our outreach clinic, he could have his eyesight restored.

The entire village pooled their resources to buy fuel for the journey. When the day came, a fierce storm was raging and the crossing was long and terrifying — especially for Luke who could only clutch his seat and trust the others would help him if the boat capsized.

They arrived at last. When Krissy met Luke in the waiting room he was still shaken from the trip and nervous about the surgery.

That very day Luke had his first cataract surgery along with 40 others. The next day, as the bandages were removed, the doctor reminded him that his vision might be blurry from swelling. Astonished, Luke reported his vision was almost perfect. The same thing happened with his second surgery. Patients can take three to six months to get their full eyesight back. Luke left the clinic with 20/20 vision.

“I am very happy with the doctors, they are making me live again. Thank you so much, I am so happy”

Luke left the clinic with so much more than restored vision. He now walks confidently and independently. In the garden he can tend to his plants without assistance. He can read the skies and predict good fishing. He can help take care of his family.

Across the developing world, people like Luke are suffering needlessly. All that’s needed is you. Make a donation today or sign up to become a monthly supporter.


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