Just short of 2 years ago I took Max for a day in Cambridge that would, in the words of my unemotional, stoical husband, change his life. Having been severely shortsighted since his early teens, with a prescription of -5.5, he had laser eye surgery. Within hours he could see better than he had seen for 25 years and over the coming weeks he talked about how he realised that being shortsighted had effectively disabled him; the fear of losing his glasses and being instantly immobilised and not able to take care of himself when out had affected him more than he realised. Whether swimming or play fighting with the children or playing sport or somewhere he needed to be able to drive to and from, the possibility always existed that he would suddenly be, accidentally or by someone else’s deliberate action, without his glasses and therefore without his sight.
Over the months that followed, his confidence grew enormously and things that I had never realised affected him simply slipped away; he took up new sports and giant slides on holiday into pools became fun and if I had to get used to the fact that I was no longer a fuzzy figure across the room as I put on my nightie, he learned to wake up in the morning and not reach for his glasses.
Getting sight back, even just getting back to perfect sight after shortsightedness, is quite something. It changed our family hugely.
There are people in the world who are far more devastatingly affected by sight issues though, such as people in Africa where cataracts can have an enormous impact on family life and well being.
Winesi March’s family is a big one. He and his wife Namaleta have 13 children in total, as well as many grandchildren. There’s Yulita, Frackson, Ethel, Flora, Luka, Lett, Samson, Yelesi, Alan… and that’s just for starters.
Winesi’s sight loss has affected all of them, and this is often an underestimated cost of avoidable blindness: the impact on the whole family.
“I feel sorry for my family,” says Winesi. “Because of my eye problem, I can no longer provide as I used to do in the past. I have some maize that I harvested last year remaining, but my worry is that once it’s finished, I won’t be able to support my family. I’m worried that they will suffer.”
Cataracts is a clouding of the eye lens; although it sounds scary, it takes only 20 minutes to treat and £30 to treat an adult, giving a person back their sight – and their independence. £30 to change a life and increase the chances of a family doing well and being able to support itself seems pretty good value for money.
Winesi, as mentioned above, has been losing his sight for 12 years and he’s been completely blind for two. He’s never seen his youngest grandson. On 8th October, reporting live over Google+ hangout from Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Malawi, we’ll follow Winesi before, during and after surgery (don’t worry, it won’t be gory!), guided by the incredible surgical team. And on 9th October we’ll join him as the bandages come off and he sees clearly for the first time in years. Sometimes in this situation we see tears, sometimes singing and dancing. Either way it’s always an incredibly special moment.
You can follow the whole story, from the operation to the grand unveiling across all main social media channels by using the hashtag #SeeTheMiracle and I’ll be publishing a live feed widget to view the events on later in the week.
In this day and age we are often asked to give money to causes, all as worthy as each other but if you can ,please give to MillionMiracles who are aiming to raise £30million and give 1 Million people back their sight. Why not band together with some friends and share the joy of knowing what a difference you’ve made? It will mean the world to people like Winesi.