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Sight for Sore Eyes

Only a minority of patients have survived Ebola Virus Disease in Sierra Leone, but sadly recovering from the acute infection does not always restore good health. For example it is known that many survivors have gone on to suffer complications such as joint pains and hair loss. It has also emerged recently that up to 50% of survivors complain of deteriorating vision. This is caused by a stubborn and often painful eye condition called ‘uveitis’, which can be triggered by a number of virus infections, including Ebola. Unless it is diagnosed and treated promptly, uveitis can cause blindness.

It is difficult to estimate how many survivors in Waterloo may need treatment, but they need to be assessed as soon as possible, to protect their vision. WP has responded quickly to this challenge, teaming up with the nearby Kissy Eye Hospital, so that Ebola survivors who have symptoms can be seen by a specialist and given appropriate treatment. Medical examination and follow-up at the hospital, plus a basic course of steroids and other drugs, usually given as eye drops, costs the equivalent of about £25 – a small price to pay to prevent devastating blindness. So far eleven survivors, including two children, have been treated; but we hope that other patients will be identified quickly.
Ebola survivors face many social, emotional and economic problems during their long convalescence, and as they try to re-build their lives. With help from the Waterloo Partnership, they may at least be spared the loss of their sight.