The IRIS team once again travelled to the remote town of Katherine in the Northern Territory for a 2-day surgical blitz on 17-19 October 2019. The heat was definitely turned up a notch since the last visit with the wet-season build up in full-swing and temperatures of 42 degrees being felt by the locals across Central Australia that week.
Supported by a great local team in the Katherine Hospital, the IRIS team worked hard to provide surgery to 25 people across the two days of surgery, with many patients having travelled into Katherine from the Gulf Communities around Borrolool and Ngukurr.
A highlight, as always, was talking to some of the patients in their post-operative appointments to learn about how their cataracts had been impacting their lives and what a difference getting earlier access to surgery will make for them and their families.
A standout story was Valmai, 74, who lived in a remote community near Borroloola and had suffered with very limited eyesight before her IRIS surgery. A traumatic injury to her right eye had resulted in reliance on the limited eyesight she had in her left, and with a dense cataract she was only capable of counting fingers from 3 feet away on the day before surgery, but was well progressed on the day after surgery achieving 6/12 and with improvements to continue in the coming days.
Valmai lived by herself and how she was able to care for herself is unclear. On the day of surgery she was largely immobilised by her eyesight, but a day later and she was self-navigating around the rooms and the ward without assistance, and even told us she would “be dancing tonight”. Hopefully she took the doctors advice to leave the dancing for a week or two!