Sight and independence restored for Nepalese grandmother

A senior woman smiles at the camera, seated on the floor of a house with pink walls.
Written by Caroline Wagner, published on February 14, 2023 Sign up for eNews

Before she had cataract surgery, Ratna’s family worried about her non-stop. Each day, her husband, son and daughter-in-law would leave her at home with her young grandson so they could tend to the farm. But due to her fading vision, Ratna couldn’t safely care for the boy, and eventually she even had trouble looking after herself.  

After taking a few bad falls, the family decided her daughter-in-law would have to stay home with her, a move that had a serious effect on the family’s income. 

“I felt very depressed,” says Ratna of her loss of independence. The grandmother, who lives in Tokha, Nepal, explained that she couldn’t even recognize her own son and had to ask him to call out to her so she could identify him. She needed an escort just to get to the bathroom and back, and she despaired about not being able to care for her family the way they were caring for her. 

When a community health worker visited the household, Ratna was referred to the Nepal Eye Hospital, where she was diagnosed with cataracts. She explains that she hadn’t realized that her condition could be treated, and initially she was nervous about getting surgery.  

“I gathered strength,” she says, “Because the community health worker told me the treatment would change my world.”  

Thanks to our partnership with the Nepal Eye Hospital, Ratna underwent phacoemulsification surgery – a technique that doesn’t require sutures and has a short recovery time – free of charge.  

An elderly man and woman sit together posing for a photo.
Ratna poses for a photo with her husband in Tokha, Nepal.

Soon, Ratna was back in the family home, thrilled to get back to a more independent lifestyle.  

With her son sitting as a ward chairman in the community, Ratna feels that she can set an example by telling others about her success with the surgery. 

“Now I am a strong pillar for the family, setting an example for others to get the eye care services without fear,” she proudly says. 

But the best part, according to her son? “Now, she is happy,” he says.  

Give the Gift of Sight today and help restore sight and independence for more women like Ratna. Vision impairment disproportionately affects women and girls, but they are less likely to be prioritized for eye health care. That’s why our Hospital-Based Community Eye Health projects are aimed at reaching everyone in need of eye care, regardless of gender or family income.  

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