Orbis Helps Give Dieu "Brighter Eyes"

September 2017

On the first day of our program in Can Tho, Vietnam, Toronto-based ophthalmologist, Dr. Asim Ali, met six-year old Dieu and changed her life forever.

Like many families from the villages around Can-Tho, Dieu’s came from very modest means. Her father is a subsistence rice farmer, while her mother works on the production line in a shoe factor. Dieu is currently in kindergarten, and she loves to paint and draw. Even though they could barely afford the fuel for their journey, Dieu’s parents knew that the financial sacrifice was necessary if their daughter was to have a chance at sight. On the 3-hour journey to the city, the family remained hopeful that soon Dieu would have “brighter eyes”. 

After seeing Dieu, Dr. Ali was able to diagnose both an opaque cataract in her left eye and the onset of strabismus. The cataract had reached such a size that her sight had deteriorated in her left eye. As a result, her right eye was overcompensating, causing drifting and squinting. “It’s quite normal in situations like hers,” explained Dr. Ali. “The first course of action for us was to remove her cataract.”

Eye problems like Dieu’s point to the need for strengthening comprehensive pediatric eye care programs in Vietnam. Like many other low and middle-income countries, congenital cataract and abnormalities such as strabismus and ptosis are the leading causes of childhood blindness in Vietnam.

Dr. Ali decided that her case would be a valuable teaching opportunity. "The local doctors were mostly accustomed to doing adult cataracts,” explains Dr. Ali. “Children's eyes behave differently, especially when they are very young, so the kind of surgical approach we took was very new for them." 

I want her to carry on in the schoolyard just like everyone else. Children are supposed to play every day, have fun, and smile. I just want that for her, too.

Dieu’s mother, Nha

Since 2015, Orbis has focused on strengthening the eye health system in Vietnam. Learn more about our work in Vietnam. 

Help provide sight-saving support for children just like Dieu

Donate