Sunharidevi’s family lives not far from Hissar in Shiekhpura, a village of two thousand people in the state of Haryana, northern India. About six years ago, she began to notice symptoms of cataract. Since then, it’s developed into a mature cataract, making the 70-year-old’s right eye almost completely blind.
For years Sunharidevi worked as a laborer in her village to earn a modest income that could help support her children. But when her vision declined, she relied more on her family and stayed at home. Her son Ramdas, 35, served as her caretaker, and started to work less in his own construction job to set time aside to care for his mother.
Sunharidevi with her son, Ramdas, as they wait to see a doctor at an eye screening camp in northern India.
One day an auto-rickshaw (tuc-tuc), a small vehicle common in India, drove through their village with an announcement: a major eye hospital was running a free screening clinic for anyone with vision issues.
Sunharidevi knew vision loss was a part of her age. She didn’t know if her sight could return, but her family insisted she visit the screening when they heard about it.
Since she was not used to traveling, her neighbors ensured that she could make the trip. Her son Ramdas and a young neighbor took her by bus to the screening camp at a community center in Hansi, located in Haryana’s Hissar district.
An eye specialist checks Sunharidevi’s cataract at Venu Eye Institute, a HelpMeSee partner hospital in New Delhi, India.
No one else in her family suffered from cataract, but her own eye condition continued to limit her abilities as it worsened. The medical team at the screening clinic checked her eyes and confirmed what they suspected. She had a severe cataract.
With dozens of other people from her town who needed care, Sunharidevi joined a group of patients going to Venu Eye Institute several hours away in New Delhi.
Cataract remains the leading cause of blindness in India, even though it can be treated with an affordable surgery. In rural India in particular, many people live too far from the hospitals that provide care or cannot pay for transportation, and as a result they go blind like Sunharidevi. Fortunately, she lived in an area where a HelpMeSee partner hospital was expanding care.
After consultation with a senior ophthalmologist at the hospital in New Delhi, Sunharidevi went into surgery. The cataract was successfully removed.
Along with her new friends she met at the hospital, Sunharidevi returned home the next day, with a HelpMeSee get well card in hand and her sight, once lost, now restored.
Sunharidevi and other members of her community leave to go home after successful cataract surgeries at Venu Eye Institute.