Long walk to full vision for cataracts patient

Gift of sight given to 60-year-old after three-year wait

Thursday, November 6 2014

For three long, hard years 60-year-old KwaZulu-Natal resident, Razia Badat, had to endure living with impaired vision while she patiently waited for a cataract operation.

In this time, Razia battled not only with failing vision but also severe osteoporosis in her spine and rheumatoid arthritis in her joints. That was until her daughter Aalia, heartbroken over watching her beloved mother’s vision rapidly deteriorate, contacted the Netcare Foundation with a desperate plea to fund the operation that would restore her mother’s sight and quality of life.

With the help of the Netcare Foundation and Dr Grant Ladner, ophthalmologist and ocuplastic surgeon at Netcare Parklands Hospital, Razia recently had the long-awaited operation that will help her live a full and productive life once more.

Dr Ladner recalls, “When Razia came to my rooms for a consultation, she had absolutely no vision in her right eye. She only had a sense of light perception, meaning she could pick up the difference between light and dark and pinpoint where the light was coming from. Her left eye was just beginning to develop cataracts but fortunately she could still see relatively well through that eye.”

According to Dr Ladner, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in South Africa. Razia was one of the approximately 160 000 people in this country currently waiting for cataract surgery. Dr Ladner explains that cataracts occur when the eye's natural lens becomes cloudy, which can develop as a result of aging or other medical conditions such as diabetes. Cataracts can also be caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet light, an injury or trauma to the eye or even by taking steroids. Some people are also more genetically predisposed to developing cataracts.

Dr Ladner further explains that the procedure to remove cataracts is an intricate but relatively simple one and is usually performed on an outpatient basis and does not require an overnight stay in hospital.

“The surgery involves removing the lens in the eye that has become cloudy, which is then replaced with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens. This helps restore clear vision,” notes Dr Ladner.

“With so many people in this country suffering from cataracts, there unfortunately just aren’t enough resources or qualified doctors in South Africa to do these operations. It is important to understand the socio-economic and psychological consequences it can have on the people whose lives have been blighted by the condition,” Dr Ladner says. “Many people lose their jobs and become dependent on state grants in order to survive. Depression is also frequent in cataracts patients because they lose their quality of life and a significant portion of their independence due to their inability to perform normal, daily tasks such as dressing themselves or walking,” he adds.

In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately 82% of people living with blindness are aged 50 and above with about 90% of the world's visually impaired living in low-income settings. In addition, about 80% of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured.

Razia’s daughter, Aalia, says her mother is extremely grateful to Dr Ladner for performing the operation, as well as the Netcare Foundation for helping fund her mother’s procedure, as she is now able to do the things that we all take for granted, like reading, cooking and even cleaning the house.

“My mother means the world to me. She brought up three children on her own, sent us all to school and made sure our every need was provided for. It broke my heart seeing her suffer so much and I wanted to do everything in my power to try and help her. Unfortunately I could not afford to fund the operation on my own, which is why I approached the Netcare Foundation after hearing about other people in need whom they have helped in the past.

I want to thank the Netcare Foundation for keeping their promise to patients and showing my whole family kindness, care and love. I also want to thank the team at Netcare Parklands Hospital for their professionalism and efficiency and giving back my mother the gift of sight,” she concludes.



Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Foundation
Contact: Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Sarah Beswick or Jillian Penaluna
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
Email: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]