Living with her husband in a small village in Busoga Region, Uganda, Joyce and her husband have have 6 children, 2 of whom are married with children.
Joyce has not been able to walk since she was a young child, probably as a consequence of polio. She moves around crawling on her hands and knees or is carried – she has never had a wheelchair.
For about three years, Joyce has had eye problems. Her eyes are often teary and she feels rubbing on her cornea. She had never tried to look for help until her daughter heard about a free camp for people with eye problems, run by CBM’s partner in the area. She was just expecting to go blind.
Unable to move and with worsening eyesight, Joyce is unable to work. Her husband is rarely home as he is out at work, but one of her grown up daughters helps as much as she can. She also receives some support and money from the local church, and a local child collects water for her.
Joyce’s daughter Sylvia brings her to the screening camp run by CBM’s partner, where she is examined and diagnosed with trachoma. The disease causes the eye lashes to turn inwards, causing first irritation, then pain and blindness. The condition can be treated early with antibiotics, but in advanced cases like Joyce’s, surgery is needed to stop the pain and stop her sight loss. It is a simple procedure and can be done the same day and she will be taken home afterwards in the camp vehicle.
The day after she received surgery, Sylvia brought her mother back to have the bandages taken off her eyes. Joyce says she felt very happy to be relieved from the pain which the eye lashes rubbing on her cornea were causing her. Her eyelids have successfully been turned so that her eye lashes will grow outward from now on.
Initially Joyce struggled to see, but after about 10 minutes, she was able to open her eyes more. Soon she is talking and laughing with the other women who have also had their bandages removed.
Finally, Benyamen, the Ophthalmic Assistant, gives the whole group advice on how to look after their eyes by washing them every day and using the eye drops they have been given. He will be conducting a follow up visit for all patients operated on in a week’s time to check that there have not been any complications and that patients are taking good care of their eyes.
Joyce’s son and her daughter Sylvia have come to the health centre. They both say how happy they are about the treatment.
A wheelchair for Joyce
With her sight saved, Joyce is hopeful she can do more. But without mobility life is difficult. Shortly after surgery, CBM arranged for her to have a wheelchair for the first time.
“I expect good things in the future; I hope to be able to do a bit more work at home and move around more easily” says Joyce.