Luke | The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ



Meet, Luke, a wonderful man in his seventies who had been blind for over 20 years until The Fred Hollows Foundation restored his sight.

When videographer Krissy Dwyer first encountered him, he had milky, sight-robbing cataracts, and his blindness made him hunch over, instinctively making him a smaller target for whatever came next. Luke's blindness made him start fearfully at any unexpected noise, forced him to remain inactive at home and to often get lost in his family's garden.

Luke was a patient at The Fred Hollows Foundation’s clinic in the Solomon Islands. That clinic was only possible because of generous Kiwis who support our work. Because of them, Luke left the terror and confusion of his blindness behind.

For decades, Luke had been his family's caregiver. He took care of his wife, children, grandchildren. He fished the sea, he tended his garden, he was the one the others turned to, and he bore his responsibilities with strength. But when he was in his fifties, Luke’s vision began to get cloudy.

Luke says it was “the wet, the sand, the water” that did it, though we know simple age causes most cataracts. If it had happened here in New Zealand, we would have gone to the eye doctor for surgery and continued living full lives. But in Luke’s village of Kolombangara Vao, there was no eye doctor and no money for an appointment, much less an operation.

It was not until the support of thousands of Kiwis enabled The Fred Hollows Foundation outreach team to visit Luke's remote region, that he got the surgery he needed.

Our donors made possible the training of local doctors and nurses to become eye care specialists. One of those local nurses traveled to Luke’s village to examine him and told him that if he could get to the 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 – all the more so for Luke, who could only clutch the seat sightlessly and trust that 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 some 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… and the same thing happened with his second surgery, too. 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” he reported jubilantly.

Luke left the clinic with so much more than restored vision. He now walks confidently and independently. In the garden, he can tend the 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. We know how to help them, and how to enable them to help themselves. All that’s needed is you. Make a donation today, or sign up to become a monthly supporter.

To learn more of Luke's story, watch the film Krissy made, or hear her discuss his journey in this podcast.

What we can do

Help keep Fred’s dream alive.

4 out of 5 people who are blind in the developing world don't need to be. Routine treatment costing as little as $25 can restore sight and hope.

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