The accident damaged the lens of her eye and caused a cataract to develop. Gladys’s sight deteriorated and her vision became distorted. It was hard for her to see in the sunlight, which would often leave her crying in pain. Gladys became more and more isolated as her life changed dramatically. She could no longer help her parents with chores or join in games with her friends.
Most young children enjoy going to school and playing with their friends and Gladys was no different. She was in a large class of 40 children. Her vision problems made it difficult to see the board and she needed to sit at the front of the classroom. Before long, she couldn’t read the teacher’s writing from even this short distance, so Gladys was unable to attend school regularly and her grades suffered as a result.
When Gladys’s family sought help, they received devastating news. During a visit to a local hospital they were advised her eye injury was too severe to operate on. While this turned out not to be true, Gladys’s mother was so worried for her daughter and feared she would go blind.
After three years of pain and worry, a team of community health workers and an ophthalmologist visited the family’s village. Gladys’s mum plucked up the courage to approach them about her daughter. The team examined Gladys’s eye and discovered her cataract was operable after all, and so she was immediately referred for surgery.
When a loved one has an operation, it is a tense time. Gladys’s family were nervous about the surgery, and worried that she could lose her sight completely.
In Nigeria, one community is home to a family in which nearly every member has experienced visual impairment. Amina and six of her seven children have had eye surgery to treat cataracts, ensuring they all have the chance to thrive.