Hundreds of eye patients from the Western Province districts of Rutsiro, Nyabihu and Rubavu, have received free cataract treatment.
The three-day exercise, which took place at Gisenyi Hospital since Monday, was jointly organised by Vision For a Nation Foundation, an international NGO; Rwanda Defence Forces, Rwanda Institute of International Ophthalmologist and Dr Agarwal’s Eye Hospital, among others.
According to Alain Abdallah Uwihoreye, the country director of Vision For a Nation Foundation, the region is the only province in the country that does not have an ophthalmologist, which explains why it was chosen.
“There has been primary eye care and screening of eyes and those identified with critical cases, such as cataract were referred to this hospital for surgery. We are aiming to operate on 200 patients but this exercise is inaugural and will be carried out twice a year,” he said.
Prof. Ciku Mathenge, an ophthalmologist and one of the doctors, conducting the operations said that cataract is a disease that affects adults as they grow older.
“It’s a change in the lens where they become grayish, then whitish and the sufferer eventually loss eyesight. This happens to everybody as they age.”
However, Prof. Ciku recommended that people should undergo regular eye checkup.
“When you have a car, every few months you take it for serving, but we never take our bodies for servicing, including eye checks. If you do checkup, your cataract is treated before you get blind.
“Hygiene is important for eyes; people should take a good diet, eat lots of vegetables and avoid spending so many hours on electronic devices such as mobile phones, computers or televisions. If you can’t, wear protective eyeglasses,” she said.
Arivera Nyiramafaranga, one of those who were treated, hailed the exercise.
“I couldn’t imagine being treated free of charge,” she said.
“I have been treated and my right eye can now see. I am very happy,” added 88-year-old Jonathan Mudakikwa.
Uwihoreye said more than 600,000 eye patients, countrywide were treated since Vision For a Nation Foundation started its operations in Rwanda back in 2012.