Nelly (right) and Francesca (centre) demonstrating how prostheses are made at Kwale Eye Centre
Nelly and Francesca are ocularists. That means that they create beautiful false eyes. They began their careers as dispensing opticians and met while working in Nigeria in 2015. They realised that after having the eye removed peoples’ self-image was damaged because of their changed appearance. A prosthesis (artificial eye) cost too much ! It was this stigma against people living with disabilities that moved the two ladies, making them switch from dispensing optometry to making of prostheses. They were passionate and very quickly created high quality false eyes which matched, fitted well, was comfortable and looked realistic. Making a prosthesis of this quality takes about 2- 3 days.
The major challenge they face right now is not being able to meet full expectations of every single patient. “Some expect the artificial eye to be able to rotate just like the other one. which is not possible yet.” Explains Nelly. In the next few years they hope to be able to do Silicon prosthesis which helps with cosmesis when damage is beyond just the eye. They are now determined to train the art of making quality customized prostheses to as many facilities as possible to bring to an end the Stigma that comes with having an eyeball removed for different medical reasons. Report written by Mishi.
Our Low Vision Therapist, Morris, was visiting a visually impaired child at a local primary school, when a teacher stopped him and asked him to have a look at a child in her class, a 7 year old girl called Firdaus. The teacher suspected she could not see well and even after moving her to the front of the class she was struggling to copy things down from the board. Morris checked her vision and found that she could only read the top 3 lines of the letter chart - she had very poor vision indeed. The child's mother was suprised to hear that there was a problem with her eyes. Firadus is a twin, and her twin sister had been helping her so much that her visual disability had went unnoticed.
Firdaus attended the Eye Centre, and was found to have cataracts in both eyes. She underwent surgery and is a changed child! Firdaus can now see well with glasses, and she is able to play with her friends and her twin sister. She is doing well at school.
Firdaus just after surgery
The next day - bandages off and she can see!
Great grannie Joyce
Great grannie Joyce, like most old people in poor rural Africa, went blind. She hadn't seen her great grandchildren, only heard them and hugged them.
At first she ignored the disability but, fiercely independent, she lost her way to the toilet in broad daylight, not making it in time. This really frustrated her.
Joyce has 5 daughters whom are all married, and lives with her married son in her own little hut. Her home was sparkling clean until a few months ago when she was really unable to keep it that way any more. Being a proud, independent woman, she wouldn't let her relatives help her to clean it nor would she let them wash her clothes which were becoming quite smelly!
Her daughter contacted Philip (our nurse) to whom they are related, he visited his grandmother and looked at her eyes. "You have bad corneal scars," he said, "but we may be able to do something for that cataract." He advised them to come for surgery.
Great grannie Joyce was so looking forward to becoming independent again after surgery, and couldn't wait to get home to do her laundry and clean. Her face was a picture as she turned to her granddaughter when the eye pad was removed, "You look familiar..but different!" she said, "very like your mother! How amazing it is to be able to see. How could you have left me blind for so long ..it was your brother who was able to restore my sight!"
Philip, our nurse, chats to a happy Joyce after surgery.