Life-changing eye surgery in the Philippines

18 March 2019

Photo of a man holding an elderly woman.
Nene with members of her village. Credit: The Fred Hollows Foundation.

Like most women in her village, 55-year-old Nene enjoyed playing with her grandchildren, farming and looking after her family. That was until her eyes became cloudy because of cataracts. Then, after 6 months, Nene went completely blind.

Before Nene went blind, she could walk with her husband to collect bamboo and help him farm fruit and vegetables. After she went blind, Nene couldn’t walk or eat by herself. This lack of independence caused her to become very depressed.

Nene's daughter-in-law heard about The Fred Hollows Foundation's eye care program at the Surigao del Norte Provincial Hospital. She accompanied Nene to the hospital for an examination, where they were told that a simple 20-minute operation could restore Nene's sight.

After surgery on her right eye, Nene smiled and said: "I can see the beauty outside again!"

Nene returned home to find her whole village had come to greet her. They were overjoyed and amazed that her sight had been restored. Nene will have a second operation to remove the cataract in her left eye soon.

A member of the Mamanwa tribe, Nene is one of the first Indigenous patients to receive cataract surgery in the Philippines.

In order to reach people like Nene, The Foundation worked in collaboration with The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to hold frequent eye health awareness sessions with Indigenous communities.

Eye health awareness materials have been produced in local languages and village health workers from the Indigenous communities have been trained in eye care. And with her sight restored, Nene will be an example to the Mamanwa people of how simple and effective eye treatment can change lives.

The Fred Hollows Foundation is supported through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).


Last Updated: 18 March 2019