Stories of Hope: Kimtol from Cambodia

Sorn Kimtol is 43 years of age and lives in Anlong Cheng Village in Oddar Meanchey Province in the remote northwest of Cambodia.  He is a father to three young children.  He is a moto-taxi driver earning an income to support his family. When Kimtol was only 14 years old, he was attacked by a bull causing an injury to his right eye resulting in him losing his sight in that eye.  Approximately two years ago, Kimtol noticed the vision in his left eye deteriorating and getting progressively worse in the last eight months.

Picture 1: Kimtol with his injured left eye

“Having been blind in my right eye for such a long time, I adapted.  But with the vision in my left eye deteriorating, I could no longer drive at night. I was very worried if I became completely blind how could I keep driving and support my family?”

In March, Kimtol had an appointment with Doctor Kakada (a visiting ophthalmologist) at the Mobile Eye Care Services in Oddar Meanchey Provincial Hospital (near the Thai border). Kimtol reports “While it was disturbing to hear that my right eye was beyond repair, it was also encouraging that there was the possibility of my sight being improved by at least 50 percent in my left eye.”

Kimtol was one of the recipients of 182 cataract surgeries performed by Doctor Kakada and his team and sponsored by the Eye Care Foundation (ECF).

Picture 2: Doctor Kakada and his team performed the surgery

The day after the operation, when the bandage was removed, Kimtol was astounded by the result.

“I cannot believe that such a quick operation can instantly give me back my sight.  I am truly amazed that I can see everything so clearly.  I keep closing my eyes and opening again to check that this is real.  I am not sure I can find the words to thank everyone involved for this wonderful gift.  I am looking forward to returning to my job, supporting the family and most importantly being an active father.”

Kimtol’s wife, Pheak Samnang Kimtol shares: “I am so grateful that my husband can see again.  I was very worried about him becoming more and more depressed.   But look at his smile now.  It means so much to us as a family and especially for our children.  Thank you to the doctors and to Eye Care Foundation”. 

 

Following up with Sorn Kimtol

Two weeks after the surgery, when Mr. Piseth (ECF Cambodia Country Program Manager) called to follow up with Kimtol, he was still very excited and extremely surprised that he could see so clearly.  He reported his life was back almost back to how it had been prior to him becoming blind.  Kimtol again thanked everyone involved.

In September, six months after surgery, Piseth spoke with Kimtol and invited him to report his progress in order to raise awareness and promote the importance of eye health during the 2023 World Sight Day celebrations.

Kimtol stated that he remains surprised about the outcome of his eye surgery.  He says some of the most important facts are that he can drive his motorcycle again which means he can take his children to school and help them with their homework because he can read again. He can convey fresh eggs to stock his wife’s roadside store and support her business. He is able to earn a living as a moto taxi driver transporting people across his community.   Kimtol becomes emotional when he describes how significant it is to him to be able to support his family.  “As you know, I was very depressed when I was losing the sight in my left eye.  I felt like I was failing my family and that I was becoming a different person.  When the Ophthalmologist did the operation, I was still a little bit worried.  However, when the bandage was removed the next day and I could see clearly again, it was like a miracle and my vision continues to be very clear.  I am so happy to share my experience on World Sight Day so others take care of their eyes and understand there is nothing to be fearful about.  I am completely satisfied with the outcome of the surgery and most importantly the impact it has had for me and my family.  I will always be grateful the National Program for Eye Health the Eye Care Foundation and the skillful and caring eye health team.”

Kimtol and his family now:

Picture 4: Kimtol with his moto-taxi bike.