Home Entertainment Regaining my sight after years of blindness was a miracle

Regaining my sight after years of blindness was a miracle

by kenya-tribune

When Julius Opiyo, 32, closed his eyes one evening at his Rabuor home in Kisumu County, he expected to open them in the morning, as usual. But with the sleep, went his sight, seemingly mysteriously.

It took him time to accept he had become totally blind, bringing life as he knew it to a grinding halt. He now had to depend on assistance to move around. But he always held on to the slim hope that he could one day regain his sight. Whether or not this was possible was a different story.

“It was a sad ending,” a smiling Julius told Lifestyle last week, referring to the fateful day when he suddenly lost his eyesight.

He had previously been a fisherman. He missed paddling, his peers, and the random evening strolls.

The interview with Lifestyle was moments before he walked into the theatre at Laser Eye Centre in Nairobi for what would be a life-changing surgery by one of the country’s top experts, Dr Mukesh Joshi— an honorary member of the Rotary Club, a consultant ophthalmologist with over 40 years of experience, and the CEO of Laser Eye Centre. The facility is known for its advanced equipment that match the best in the world.

Dr Joshi says the most common procedures are cataract operations, laser vision correction, corneal transplant and cross-linking among others. The pioneer ophthalmologist also handles many cases of eyesight challenges caused by diabetes and glaucoma.

Rotary Club

Ordinarily, Julius would not be able to pay for such a surgery at the well-equipped facility, but in this case, it was being offered for free as part of a charity campaign led by the Rotary Club of Nairobi.

Just like when he lost his sight some years ago, the new beginning was also surprising for Julius. He was operated on his left eye on December 19, 2022, followed by the right eye three days later. He has now regained sight on both eyes.

Julius remembers the doctor at Laser Eye Centre removing the bandage from his eye the day after the surgery and voila! He could see light again.

Like Julius, until early December of 2021, Roselyn Mokeira Omariba, 25, was living a normal life. At the time, she was a Form Three student at Geke Secondary School in Kisii County but was briefly in Nairobi to visit a relative. Then all of a sudden, one morning, she felt the urge to rub her eyes.

It was a reflex reaction to get rid of what she thought were dust particles. But the moment her fingers reached her eyes, all turned into total darkness as she was returning from a shop nearby. Confused and surprised, she screamed for assistance. Then she fell down in desperation. Just like that, she had lost her sight.

Dr. Mukesh Joshi

Laser eye Centre Consultant Ophthalmologist Dr. Mukesh Joshi examine a patient at his clinic in Westlands, Nairobi on December 23, 2022.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

“I felt like it was the end of my life,” she told Lifestyle. “I always wept whenever I was alone. I could feel the tears roll down my cheeks. These were the times I would be speaking to my God. I always asked him tough questions. I particularly wondered why He had allowed tragedy to befall me.”

Roselyn comes from a humble family of four children –two boys and two girls. But she is the eldest and in whose hands the family hoped their fortunes would change. Then tragedy struck.

With her movement now limited, she has always depended on her family members to move her from the sitting room to the bedroom or the verandah –or wherever she wanted to be. In these times, the radio was her closest companion.

“One day I heard on the radio that there would be a free eye checkup. I shared it with my mum and we showed up,” she said.

The Rotary Club of Nairobi has since 1985 run a project known as the “Kenya Rural Blindness Eradication Project”. It typically involves visiting rural areas to conduct free eye checkups. The initiative aims to eradicate blindness across the country by performing cataract surgeries and corneal transplants on patients. At least 16,000 people have previously benefited from the initiative. Roselyn hoped for the restoration of her sight.

The free screening for bilateral mature cataracts took place at Kisumu, and drew patients from Homa Bay, Ahero, Kapsabet, Kisi and Kericho. This event was under the current Rotary leadership of President Dr Josephine Odhiambo and the Community Service Chair, Mr Clinton Obongo. Julius and Roselyn were among the group of 210 who showed up for the life-changing opportunity that weekend. Dr Joshi has for years taken time off his high-end facility in Nairobi to visit the rural locations across the country together with his team of specialists and fellow Rotarians to perform surgeries for free.

Julius Opiyo

Julius Opiyo.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

In the three-day eye camp, screening of patients for mature cataracts was done.

However, the two patients, Dr Joshi said, required a delicate surgery to remove cataracts that had blocked their vision. They were also diabetic, making the corrective surgery complicated and practically impossible to accomplish at the camp. Laser Eye Centre has some of the most sophisticated equipment, and has often attended to high-profile patients. On this occasion, the two special patients were advised to travel to Nairobi for specialised attention. Offering the surgery for free to the two patients was expensive to the facility, as it had to cover the costs, but the doctor thinks it was worth it.

 “The Laser Eye Centre is the pioneer in cataracts surgery by phacoemulsification,” Dr Joshi said, adding that it is a surgery used to restore vision in people with cataracts, or clouding of the eye’s lens.

This type of cataract surgery uses ultrasonic waves to break the lens into tiny pieces, which are then suctioned out of the eye with a vacuum. The procedure is completed by replacing the damaged lens with an artificial one.

The cost of accommodation was catered for by Skynest Residences by CityBlue.

Julius Opiyo,

Julius Opiyo, 32, undergoes different tests on his left eye before his scheduled second surgery at Laser Eye Centre in Westlands, Nairobi on December 23, 2022.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

“The doctor (Dr Joshi) needed accommodation for his patients and as part of our corporate social responsibility—and in the Christmas spirit—we offered it. The two arrived in Nairobi without knowing where they would spend the night and without their vision but they left well taken care of with their sight restored,” said Mr Jameel Verjee, the founder and CEO of CityBlue Hotels.

For Roselyn, this was like a miracle and she is grateful to the hospital and the Rotarians who made it possible

“When the bandage was removed, the doctor asked whether I could see anything. And, yes, I was seeing again. I quickly scanned around and caught my mum’s happy smile. This is a smile I had always yearned to see again,” she said.

Both patients said they were on medication, post-surgery.

“He is a God who listens. He is a God who restores,” Roselyn said. “I’m so grateful to everyone who made this possible.”

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