“Even coming out of the house was like a long journey.”
Life had become a slow-motion endeavour for Mafunasi, 85. Day-to-day activities like fetching water or cooking were completely out of the question.
Blinded by cataracts, Mafunasi couldn’t afford to travel for treatment, until she heard about a local CBM outreach screening.
“Our village leader had an eye problem and went for treatment and came back treated. Everyone was encouraging me to go to the hospital and were all looking forward to me being treated,” she explains.
Mafunasi didn’t hesitate.
Precious Chirwa who is the Ophthalmic Clinical Officer at the Nkhoma Hospital Eye Department, confirmed Mafunasi had cataracts and advised her to leave for surgery at Nkhotakota District Hospital right away.
“I had accepted to go for surgery because I have the hope that I will be fine again.”
Once at the Nkhotakota District Hospital, Precious was able to get a better look at Mafunasi’s eyes. In addition to the cataracts, he detected something that was all too common in this part of Malawi: trachomatous trichiasis.
“Trachoma was one of the leading causes of blindness, but this year we have eradicated endemic trachoma,” explains Precious.
While trachoma which is no longer endemic, cases still exist in some districts in Malawi.
Trachomatous trichiasis results in turned-in eyelashes which scrape against the cornea – where the incision is made for a cataract surgery.
After careful consultation, the team decided that only the right eye could be operated on, because the trichiasis was too advanced in the left eye to safely operate.
The morning after Mafunasi’s right eye was operated on, Priscilla who is the Clinical Officer at Nkhotakota Hospital removed her bandage and told her to walk to the other side of the room.
Mafunasi’s daughter Betina moved in to take her by the hand and was surprised when Mafunasi navigated the way on her own.
“Seeing her walking brought so much joy to me,” says Betina. “I am so happy that she no longer needs assistance.”
“It brings joy to my life knowing I can walk around without any assistance. I will be able to do things myself again, things like going to the bathroom won’t be a challenge anymore,” says Mafunasi.