In Uganda, Gladys Atto has been on a mission to fight preventable blindness since she graduated as an ophthalmologist from Mbarara University of Science and Technology.
She heads the eye care department at Moroto Regional Hospital, a facility that remains too remote for thousands of patients in northeastern Uganda.
Anxious to leave no one behind, she treats the inhabitants of the most remote regions of Karamoja free of charge:
" Since in the Karamoja sub-region, patients do not have access to health care, we go to meet the patients in the villages. After checking the condition of their eyes, we treat them, and those who need surgery are taken to the hospital .”
Teresa is a mother of three whose daily life is marked by eye pain. She can no longer go gardening early because of her eye problems. She was diagnosed with cataracts in 2020, yet she was unable to access health services, let alone specialist treatment. But Dr. Atto has guaranteed her that she will regain her sight. This visit marks the beginning of a medical intervention, which until then was too expensive for this patient:
"I couldn't go to the health center because the other people who diagnosed me were from Tokora. And since they were from Tokora, I couldn't walk the distance since it's very far. I couldn't go and I was left alone at home".
Teresa will have to undergo a complex operation. She is accompanied by the medical team to the nearest health unit, 35 kilometers away.
According to the Ugandan Ministry of Health, 57% of blindness cases in the country are due to cataracts, a condition that can be treated. The most common cause of visual impairment is uncorrected refractive error.
Since 2021, the rise in avoidable blindness has worried experts, leading to extra work for Dr Gladys Atto, who remains motivated by the prospect of giving someone back their sight.