Seventy-eighty-year-old Juma Lubega can not hide his happiness. The joy of a regained sight is noticeable from the smile and a fixedly look he gives to his benefactor through the reems of his glasses.
Lubega reportedly lost his vision about 22 years ago at the age of 55, as a result of Cataracts. Luckily, he is among the 197 people who have just received eye surgeries at a charity eye health camp, staged at Luwero Health Centre IV, in Luwero district, about 75 kilometers north of Ugandan capital Kampala.
According to Icare Foundation—the group responsible for this mobile eye health camp—Cataracts is a condition that leads to the clouding of the eye lens, which if not treated would lead to total blindness. But in this typically peasant community, it was not easy for the septuagenarian to rise enough money for a surgery.
Cataracts according to opticians occur in adults starting from the age of 40 and is reportedly the leading cause of blindness in the World.
ICare Foundation is banking on partners and well-wishers like; Uganda Ophthalmology Society, the North Indian Cultural Association (NICA), the Lion’s Club Kampala Central and the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party supporters in the diaspora to take the gift of sight to those desperately in need across Uganda.
According to Isaac Kigozi, the Foundation’s managing director, “Your Eyesight is our Insight” campaign which seeks to provide free eye care services such as screening, surgeries and free glasses to those who can’t afford is so dear to him.
Kigozi lost his vision at only 23 while a student at California State University, Sacramento (CSUS), due to Keratoconus, another eye infection which according to opticians causes the cornea to thin up and begin to bulge into a cone-like shape that deflects light as it finds its way to the retina causing a distorted vision.
“But I never let it define my reality because I had goals set and was ready to accomplish them at any cost. I was given a separate class and my notes were turned into audios to enable me to stay at the same learning pace as my colleagues something that helped me grasp content first and move on with life,” he said.
Receiving a cornea transplant four years later and fully regaining his vision, Kigozi then decided it was time to give back to community back home.
And at this Luweero district camp, Icare Foundation screened 1950 people. On addition to the surgeries, the charity gave out 600 free eye glasses, 800 eye drops. The camp is now scheduled for other parts of the East African country after the charity has reviewed the resources at its disposal to meet the overwhelming demand.