In 2007, five-year old Asad Javed was playing with his friends, when a brutal act of unkindness changed the course of his life: another young boy hurled a stone at him. The stone hit Asad's eye and he lost vision in this eye.
Asad underwent a painful and unsuccessful procedure soon after his injury. His studies and playtime all came to a halt. Reading, watching TV and other sight-dependent activities became a strain, causing blinding headaches. His father, a driver and stay at home mother, were very worried about their child's future. For eight years his parents desperately visited various doctors and tried to find a cure for his severely impaired vision.
"Doctors would want to take money from us for tests and operations beforehand, but would not give us any guarantees of success," says his mother.
It was only after he visited The Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi in 2015, that Asad's problem was thoroughly diagnosed. The impact from the stone had caused a scar in his eye and a hemorrhage, or leakage of blood, at the back of his retina. Due to delayed treatment, a cataract had also formed in Asad's eye.
A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. It mostly occurs with age. In Pakistan, according to a 2007 study, over half a million people suffer from blindness from cataract issues, which can be corrected provided the right treatment is available.
"When Asad came to see me, he only had 10 per cent vision left in his eye. The treatment he received saved him from permanent blindness," says Dr Irfan Jeeva, Service Line Chief of Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat (Ophthalmology and ENT).
In December 2015, Dr Jeeva performed the first of three procedures, to remove the cataract from Asad's eye. Then, between January and February 2016, he received two injections, four weeks apart, to treat the haemorrhage in his eye. These procedures restored 75% of the child's vision.
With four other family members to feed, Asad's father could not afford the treatment for his son's complicated condition. His doctor referred his case to welfare. Both the Patients’ Behbud Society for Aga Khan University Hospital and the Patient Welfare Programme helped reduce his financial burden, covering over 70 per cent of the cost of the treatment. Dr Jeeva waived his clinic charges to facilitate Asad's family even further. At AKUH, K, Asad received prompt diagnosis and treatment, supported by state-of-the-art equipment and world-standard medication.
Asad was given guidance on how to care for his eye once he checked out of the Hospital and continues to be monitored by the ophthalmology team even after his treatment has concluded. He makes regular follow-up visits to his ophthalmologist. "I struggled to see the blackboard clearly, but my helpful classmates would let me copy off their books," recalls Asad, of his experience of living with one eye.
With the horror of his eye injury now behind him, he can enjoy reading, watching TV and being a 'normal child' again!