BERTHA Sekhabi was over the moon yesterday after successful 20-minute surgery to remove a cataract from her right eye at Kalafong Tertiary Hospital in Atteridgeville.
The 79-year-old could not stop thanking nurses and the doctor who performed the surgery, conducted to mark Eye Care Awareness Week. Ophthalmologists dedicated the week to cataract surgery.
Sekhabi told the Pretoria News that she had initially been scared when she was told she had to go for an operation.
“I honestly did not know what to expect. I was so scared. Before they took me to theater I said a little prayer asking God to be with me throughout the whole thing.
“And right now I am very happy that I am fine and I can’t wait to remove the patch so I can put this eye to some good use.”
Although she did not remember how long she had been on the waiting list, Sekhabi said it was a long wait before the operation.
She said: “I had lost hope. I had made peace with the fact that my right eye would never gain sight again, but my daughter kept bringing me here. She is the person who ensured I never miss my appointments.”
Dr Hamza Tayob said their target was to operate on 100 patients with cataracts this week. Tayob said most of their cataract patients were pensioners as it was an age-related issue.
He said that as one got older, excessive UV light such as sunlight and illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension contributed to cataract formation.
“Cataracts are the number one cause of reversible blindness in Africa, and we have thousands of patients on the waiting list.
“All the patients here have one eye operated on; they will have to wait another period for the next eye to be attended to because we have to give everyone a chance to get at least one cataract eye done,” he said.
Tayob said that a cataract operation involved the removal of an old eye lens and replacing it with an artificial one.
“Because we put in an artificial lens, patients can’t get a second cataract because it is plastic.
“Many of these patients have not seen their families for 10 years and we get to see the impact this operation has when we open the patch for the first time after the operation.
“And that’s the only thing that makes us come back and keep doing this, because of the satisfaction of seeing the patient getting their vision back. The frustration of the health sector would cripple us and we would not want to come back, but it’s because we see the patients and their families so excited.”
He said that although it was a minor operation, it was life-changing.
With the assistance of sponsors, Tayob said his team of Dr Kabelo Sebogodi, Dr Isanang Malope and Dr Sibongile Mthetwa operated on 35 patients at the weekend.