El Vanson is a 64-year-old man from Mondulkiri, Cambodia. In late November, he came to the health centre in his district to have his eyes examined.
Vanson says that he bumped into a tree 17 years ago which caused a large swelling around his right eye. He has been blind in that eye since then and, at times, it hurts considerably. He would prefer not to have the eye removed, unless the pain gets worse in which case he will ask the ophthalmologist if removing his eye will stop the pain.
Four years ago the vision in his left eye began to deteriorate due to a cataract. Vanson felt panic when he realized he would become completely blind. Soon he could no longer work the land and he became dependent on his family. After a while he was unable to go out alone and would sit all day waiting until his family came home.
Through the village health volunteer he heard that an eye camp was being held in Mondulkiri, where he could undergo surgery on his cataract. Vanson did not hesitate: “It gave me so much hope that I would be helped.”
The operation on his left eye was successful. Vanson remembers how he felt: “I got my life back. I was so relieved that I could see again and could take care of myself. I know better than anyone how important good eye care is. I tell everyone that they need to have their eyes checked”.
This year Vanson came to the health centre to have his eyes examined by the ophthalmic nurse. He has difficulty reading and needs reading glasses. These will be provided at a later date.
With photos by Marielle van Uitert.