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Sightsavers Reports

“I was desperately longing for my eyesight”

October 2017
Kausar stands on the hillside in fog.

The beautiful view from Kausar’s hillside village in Pakistan is often obscured by low clouds.

But it makes little difference to Kausar: she’s been gradually losing her sight to cataracts for the past four or five years.

Kausar and her husband Shaukat run a business cooking chapatis for their village. Her large family relies on the small income so they can buy food, so when Kausar’s sight loss began to affect her business she knew things were serious.

“I found counting money very difficult,” she says. “It was difficult for me to see the notes and coins. For a few days I [accidentally] gave extra money to the clients. When we were counting the money, we had less, so I realised that I had problems.”

Kausar struggles to see what money she holds in her hand.

Reliant on her children

Before her sight began to deteriorate, it was Kausar who looked after everyone in the family. With three sons, five daughters and many grandchildren to take care of, she used to be very active: chopping wood in the forest, walking to the lake to wash clothes, travelling to the village in a tuk-tuk to visit the market. But she soon became completely reliant on others.

“I was nervous [when I walked around]. Sometimes I fell down. My son went with me everywhere – I didn’t go out very often. I went to my oven and I came back. We were in difficulty – our life was miserable.”

Kausar's son leads her up the hill towards their home.

An uncertain future

Kausar was desperately worried about the burden she was placing on her family, especially as her sight loss was the latest in a long list of family misfortunes. One of her sons died a few years ago and two other sons have had serious accidents.

Kausar has pains in her legs and difficulty eating, and Shaukat’s health is deteriorating too. With the added worry of sight problems, the future for the family felt uncertain. “I was desperately longing for my eyesight,” she says.

Kauser has her eyes screened.

Diagnosed with cataracts

It wasn’t until a neighbour told Kausar about free eye surgeries at a Sightsavers partner hospital that Kausar realised her sight could be restored. Shaukat took her to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with cataracts and given a date to return for surgery. Although she was nervous about having the operation, Kausar decided that “vision is more important”.

The day after the surgery, her courage pays off. When Kausar’s bandage is removed, her face, which was creased with worry before, breaks out into a huge smile. “I am happy!” she exclaims. “The eye that was operated: I can see from it! I am too happy. It is much better than I expected – I can see down [points to the floor] and I can walk on my own.”

Kausar and her daughter happily smile at each other.

A chance to see her family again

Kausar’s joy continues when she returns home and takes in everything she’s been missing. The change is incredible: she rushes around her home, laughing with her family and chatting excitedly.

Standing in front of her house looking out over the stunning scenery, she says: “Earlier I couldn’t see this properly. Now I can even see the poles in between the mountains, and I saw a goat that was going towards my brother’s house at the end of this hill.”

Kausar’s other worries seem to be diminishing too. “I was afraid of some illness, but after my eyes have been treated I’m not worried about that ailment, so I’m happy.” Although Shaukat’s health still isn’t good, Kausar now knows she can help him. “I used to think about how my family would manage,” she explains. “Now I can help. I will make clothes for my husband and my family, and I can make different things for my daughters.”

Her husband sums it up perfectly: “She’s now back in the world.”

Kausar sits outside her home with her family, all posing for the camera.

“I am so happy I can see. Now I know that life will be good.”

Kausar sits outside her home with her family, all posing for the camera.

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