I am baffled. This is the 4th patient I’ve seen this morning who has wide open pupils like saucers. I ask the team why they have used dilating drops before I’ve seen them. “We haven’t doc, they were already like this”
I take a close look and ask Keith who has been testing visual fields to make some enquires with other patients about dietary and drinking habits in the village.
It turns out there is a popular home brew known as chang’aa which is cheap, potent and gives a quick high. We pay a local man 200 shillings (about £1.50) to buy a bottle for us. It comes in an old gin bottle with the seal broken. The smell is like paint stripper and I suspect it is laced with methanol and who knows what else. We are asking of there is a toxicology lab in Nairobi where we can get it tested. If it is methanol the blindness it causes is irreversible. There have been known to be spates of mass chang’aa intoxication with groups of party goers waking up blind and it has been a major issue in some of the slums.
I look in to the blank eyes of the 25 year old man who is already using a stick to navigate. Sadly I explain it is highly unlikely his vision will come back. Not the kind of news I like to deliver. We hope that by getting the home brew tested at the toxicology lab we can confirm whether it is methanol poisoning and hopefully send out some patient education.
The eye project was featured on eNews Africa last week: watch the video
Recipe – Chocolate Soda Bread
450g plain white flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsps caster sugar
25g unsalted butter, chilled and danced
75g good-quality milk chocolate, roughly chopped
75g walnuts, roughly chopped
75g dried apricots
350ml plain yogurt
1. Pre-heat oven to 220ºC
2. Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and sugar in to a mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub in until the mixture feels like fine crumbs. Then in the chocolate, walnuts and apricots create a well and pour in the yogurt.
3. Mix it all together adding more yogurt if the dough is dry.
4. Dust hands and surface with flour and turn out the dough then shape in to a ball. Place the ball on a baking sheet and with a sharp knife cut a cross in top and sprinkle with flour.
5. Place in the heated oven for around 35 minutes until the bread is golden brown and sounds hollow to the tap.
6. Transfer to a wire rack (not that we’ve got one) to cool.
7. Eat warm with a cuppa or sliced and toasted when it has cooled.
3. Make a well in the centre of the mix and
The photographer prepares the background and lighting…