Special report by Brian Doolan, CEO
Cambodia: A man can see and his grandson can have a normal childhood thanks to a new eye hospital in Cambodia constructed with the help of our supporters and the Australian Government.
Lom Lun hated that his grandson was missing school
Eight-year-old Yeang adores his grandfather. Lom Lun's face fills with love as he hears his grandson's voice. The connection between them is so strong. They are best friends.
“We talk about everything,” Lom Lun said.
They dream of adventures, like going to Angkor Wat, the ancient temples located less than an hour away, or taking the two cows they care for together to the best grasslands that only Lom Lun knows how to find.
Lom Lun and his grandson live in a remote village in the Siem Reap province of north-western Cambodia.
For the three years that Lom Lun was completely blind with cataract, his grandson took care of him, guiding him everywhere.
To Lom Lun’s great distress, his grandson had missed so much school that he had to repeat kindergarten twice and he still cannot read or write.
It’s a common story. For many of the more than 35 million blind people who live in the developing world, there are others, usually children, who miss out on education or other life options to care for them.
This tragedy is all the greater because with the right treatment, 3 in 4 of those who are blind don’t need to be.
When The Foundation-trained eye health team visited Lom Lun's village, he was identified for surgery to remove the large cataracts that had formed in each of his eyes.
Lom Lun was afraid, but he hated being blind. He hated being a burden on his family, especially his grandson.
New eye hospital, more eye surgeries
Thanks to our supporters, the brand new Siem Reap Eye Hospital that Lom Lun attended is a modern, state-of-the-art facility, able to service the local population of three million people.
Also thanks to our supporters, the number of qualified ophthalmologists in Cambodia has more than doubled from nine to 19, which means there are more than twice as many eye surgeries being done.
However, in a country of more than 14 million people, more eye doctors are urgently needed.
Lom Lun's cataracts were a challenge. They were well advanced, and dense, particularly in the right eye. But thanks to the pioneering work of Fred Hollows, inexpensive intraocular lenses (IOLs) and sophisticated surgical techniques are now available in countries like Cambodia to treat blindness in people like Lom Lun.
When the cataracts were finally removed, they were almost as big as a corn kernel.
His grandson had waited anxiously with Lom Lun before the operation, his little hand clasping his grandpa's big one.
Life-changing surgery a success
When Lom Lun emerged from the operating theatre, his grandson’s face lit up with relief. He ran to his grandfather and grabbed his hand, squeezing it tightly, relieved to see him come out safely.
Just a day later, Lom Lun's eye patches were removed.
Lom Lun blinked a little, and turned his head. When he saw his grandson, Lom Lun's face lit up and a huge smile spread across his face.
“How many fingers?” the surgeon asked, holding up one.
“One,” Lom Lun replied, reluctantly dragging his eyes away from his beaming grandson.
“How many now?” the surgeon inquired, holding up four fingers.
“Four,” Lom Lun answered happily.
“Thank you to The Foundation for helping me. I am very happy. My grandson will be able to go to school without having to look after me. I can get back to work and help the family. ” – Lom Lun
Before Fred Hollows took on the significant but achievable challenge of eliminating treatable and preventable blindness in developing countries, people like Lom Lun would never have been able to see again.
Thanks to our supporters, Yeang can now go back to school full-time and learn to read and write. His grandfather can work in the rice fields, tend the cows and grow vegetables to contribute to the upkeep of his family.
Make a Donation
Call us: 1800 352 352