Blindness

Dependency is the unaccounted economic cost of preventable blindness

95-year-old Lalit was entirely depending on his family for care until he was cured of cataract blindness at a microsurgical outreach camp of the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation.

Lalit Bahadur Magar is a 95-year-old man who lives with his grandson in the remote Himalayan outback of Nepal. With one eye irreparably damaged, and the other with a mature cataract, he was completely blind.

His grandson’s wife Muna is 40 years old and is tasked with the full-time care of Lalit in addition to the responsibilities of looking after her husband, her children and the household. Muna loves Lalit too much to neglect or abandon him at this age, but life is difficult looking after her blind in-law.

Lalit was not convinced that his sight could be restored. Muna’s husband also believed that the whole exercise could be futile. The fact that Lalit also suffers from existing mental health conditions did not help.

Lalit and Muna’s story is a classic example of how needless blindness often impacts not just one person, but entire families and communities. Most of Muna’s time is spent taking care of Lalit. This is the unaccounted economic cost of preventable blindness. “If he could see, I would have one less responsibility and I could contribute to the family’s household income by working in the field, or picking up other odd jobs in the village,” she says.

A ray of hope emerged when a screening team from the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation arrived in the village. Muna resolved to take Lalit to the camp.

Lalit was not convinced that his sight could be restored. Muna’s husband also believed that the whole exercise could be futile. The fact that Lalit also suffers from existing mental health conditions did not help.

However Muna was determined.

She left her children in her husband’s care, and brought Lalit to the camp. There, after an assessment by Ophthalmic Assistants from the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation, Lalit’s was referred for surgery. His surgery was performed by Dr. Sanduk Ruit, global eye health hero, and co-founder of the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation. Within seven minutes, Lalit was able to see again.

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