Patient stories: Treating Khatija for Cataracts

Khatija lives in the camps in South East Bangladesh, where 1.2 million of the Rohingya community are sheltering. She had been unable to see for four years but had no access to eye care services due to poverty.

Forty year old Khatija’s life has not been easy. Nine years ago she was living happily in Myanmar with her husband, Nur, and their son and daughter. Nur was a woodcutter by profession and died suddenly whilst working in the jungle. Khatija was heartbroken. Soon after, she and her children moved in with her mother-in-law.

One year later, further tragedy came – within the space of a few months, both her son and daughter became sick and she could not afford treatment to help them. Sadly both children died as a result of their illnesses.

Having been surrounded by her family, Khatija found her life turned upside down – now living with just her mother and brother-in-law she began to lose her sight. "Everything around me seems to be blurred and foggy. I was losing sight day by day", she explained.

I was blind for the last four years and depended on my brother, who used to earn from day to day work. Due to extreme poverty, I could not treat my eyes.

Khatija

In October 2017, she travelled on the back of her brother in law’s bike to Bangladesh. There they began to build a new life, alongside thousands of other Rohingya in the camps of Cox’s Bazar.

About six months into her time there, Khatija’s brother-in-law, Abul struck upon some good news – an Orbis supported eye screening was being organised in the nearby Balukhali camp, funded by the Qatar Fund for Development. This was part of the Qatar Creating Vision initiative.

“We shall take you to the eye screening and you will see again”, he promised her.

Adbul, Khatija's brother in law

Photo pre COVID

Khatija received an eye test and a doctor explained to her that she was suffering from mature cataract in both eyes. She was referred to Cox’s Bazar Baitush Sharaf Hospital for surgery. That very evening, the first of the two surgeries was performed on Khatija’s left eye.

After removing her bandages the next day, she began to see clearly immediately.

It is amazing. I can see everything, I never imagined of seeing again.

Khatija