Student seeks Shs13m for eye transplant

Oscar Oguli is looking forward to the New Year. This is because he will be sitting the Uganda Aanced Certificate of Education (UACE) examination later in the year. But despite his optimism, the 20-year-old has to deal with an eye condition he has battled since childhood.

Oguli suffers from keratoconus, a condition in which the cornea of the eye is unable to hold its round shape in place. As a result, his vision has been affected and he is unable to see and read words clearly. The eyes also itch and produce a lot of tears.

Although he has had the problem since childhood, Oguli says it was only diagnosed two years ago.
“I was taken to several hospitals in Tororo and Mukono, but doctors always said the problem was not serious and that it would be rectified by wearing glasses,” says Oguli.

At Georgina Eye Clinic, where Oguli’s condition was diagnosed, the ophthalmologist (eye specialist), Dr Juliet Otiti said since both eyes were affected, the best way to save them from further damage would be to undergo a cornea transplant.

Dr Otiti says if left untreated, keratoconus can cause permanent blindness.

“My parents have been trying to raise money to have a transplant carried out, but that has not been successful. I hope Good Samaritans can join me in raising funds,” says Oguli.

Because Uganda has no cornea bank, Dr Otiti said most transplants involving such conditions are often carried out in countries such as Kenya, UK, India and USA.

However, if the transplant is to be done in Uganda, the cornea would have to be bought from abroad. In Oguli’s case, this could cost $5000 (about Shs13m), money the family says it is yet to raise.

Oguli’s father, Wilberforce Lumonya said: “We have consulted eye specialists from Mulago and Mengo hospitals with the hope that we could get free services but that has not worked out.”

Expert view
Dr Grace Ssali Nsibirwa, the president of the College of Ophthalmology of East, Central and Southern Africa (Uganda branch), says after being infected, the cornea becomes longer (in cone shape). This means light cannot go through and gets refracted. She says the condition is common in children and young teenagers and becomes worse as the child grows

According to Dr Nsibirwa, although there is no known cause of keratoconus, it has been largely associated with allergies that cause continuous itching of the eyes.

Other symptoms of keratoconus include frequent production of tears, poor vision and photophobia (sensitivity to light). Poor vision can be caused by rubbing the swollen cornea, which, in the process becomes non-transparent.

Treatment
Dr Nsibirwa says the recommended treatment for keratoconus is undergoing a cornea transplant.
Wearing glasses may, in the short term also improve sensitivity to light and subsequently eye sight. Keratoconus can also be controlled by applying eye drops to condense the itch and oedema (swelling of the cornea).

How you can help
To offer financial assistance towards Oscar Ogul’s treatment, you can reach him through his father on 0782801818 or 0701801818.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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