Steven Murray from Angus was diagnosed with aggressive cataracts last year – within 12 months, he had almost entirely lost his sight and thought he would never see his loved ones faces again. But after surgery, he can see again - and is raising funds for charity CBM to help people in the world’s poorest places access the same sight-restoring treatment.
He explains: “The whole experience of having normal eyesight to not being able to see much of anything in less than one year, were the most difficult months of my life. Losing the ability to see impacts your physical and mental health in so many different ways, I had suicidal thoughts because I did not want to become a burden to anyone, thought I'd never see anyone's face again. I count myself blessed that I was able to receive the treatment I needed which restored my vision.
Since I have first-hand experience with both facing blindness, and having my vision restored, I want to help CBM UK, as many people living in the world’s poorest communities are facing sight threatening problems and going needlessly blind simply because they cannot afford the surgery they need that would restore their sight so that they could lead a better quality of life.
I believe everyone should have access to health care. I plan on walking 10,000 steps every day in May, something I have never attempted before, which will be huge challenge for me”.
Around 75% of all blindness globally could be prevented or treated. But in poorer parts of the world, many people do not have access to sight-saving treatments that could prevent blindness or restore their vision.
International Christian disability charity, CBM (www.cbmuk.org.uk) aims to help people living with treatable
blindness to access sight-saving surgery, eye treatments and glasses.
Steven was shocked at how simple and life transforming his cataract operation. Millions of people around
the world are needlessly blind because they can’t get simple surgery or treatment that could save their sight.
For poor communities going blind means losing your chance to go to school, earn a living or live
independently. Around half of all blindness is caused by cataracts, exactly as Steven experienced, where the
lens of the eye becomes cloudy. Cataracts can be treated with simple surgery, which costs as little as £24 for
an adult or £95 for a child in the poorest places of the world. If you wait too long, cataracts can become
“hyper-mature”, which makes them more difficult to remove, and can cause surgery complications. In
general, the best outcomes for treatment take place when surgery is performed soon after vision problems
Dr Andy Pyott, an NHS consultant ophthalmologist in Inverness, has witnessed first-hand the challenges of
living with cataracts both in the UK and in lower income countries – and the dramatic impact of surgery. Dr
Pyott, who has volunteered with CBM for many years, travelling to Asia and Africa to train local eye
specialists. , says:
“When I returned from Cambodia over twenty years ago, I had a bit of a culture shock in that compared to
what I was having to deal with in Asia, the cataracts in Scotland were very early and our interventions were
to preserve lifestyle rather than cure blindness. The pandemic has caused a sea change. Over the past few
months I have been shocked at how many blind patients I have been having to treat, many elderly and living
on their own - many patients waiting longer than ever due to the backlog caused by the pandemic.
Unfortunately the situation is not nearly as bad as in poorer parts of the world. In Cambodia, I operated on
people who had been living needlessly blind for decades simply because they couldn’t or didn’t know how to
access the short operation or treatment that could save their sight. Performing cataract surgery is one of the
most satisfying operations that an ophthalmologist can perform as there is no other medical intervention
that can bring about such a rapid change in someone's quality of life.”
Steven is setting himself a challenge of walking 10,000 steps, the equivalent of five miles every day in May,
to help restore sight in the world’s poorest places. Link to Steven’s fundraising page: