Her husband carefully guides her to where I am sat. I’ve just seen the last of our study patients and the long queue of people who have heard an eye team is running a clinic are now welcomed in for an assessment and treatment.
She is 24 and her husband looks younger, he is gentle and caring and full of hope that his wife can be helped. Before examining her closely I see she has a familiar appearance. One eye pointing outwards and her stare is one of someone who is in near complete darkness. Despite this there is overlaying those blind eyes the familiar look of hope.
They have been married just two years and have a daughter. Shortly after delivering their child she became seriously unwell and during her recovery her vision went. I examined her closely and found the back of her eyes were badly scarred and in that instant knew that nothing could be done. It is heart wrenching to bring hope to someone then take it away. A recent discussion last time I was in the UK was enlightening, why are eye surgeons, generally speaking, focusing their attention on people who are visually impaired and can’t be “fixed”. We concluded that is makes us feel small and not as great as we’d like to think we are. We see people like the young lady with her whole life in front of her, as our failures and so cope with it by passing the responsibility elsewhere. Fortunately in the UK, there is an “elsewhere”. Social services, groups for the blind, low vision aid clinics and more. In a UK hospital clinic I can walk down the corridor or write a referral letter knowing that this patient will be looked after and supported to manage as best they can with what they have. Here, support is minimal and although a few pioneers have established low vision centers, for most these are unreachable.
Feeling completely deflated at the end of a hard day with a definite lump in my throat I started to write down some ideas. Maybe we will be in a position not so far away from now to extend the services of Peek to not just those whom can have their blindness prevented or cured but as a “vision assistant” to those who will have to cope with poor vision for the rest of their days.
Recipe – Double Chocolate Biscotti
- 100g butter, softened
- 125g caster sugar
- 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 eggs
- 200g plain flour
- 100g white chocolate, chopped
- 125g chocolate chips
- In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in cocoa and baking powder. Beat for 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in flour by hand. Mix in white chocolate and chocolate chips. Cover dough, and chill for about 10 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 190ºC. Divide dough into two parts, and roll each part into a 23cm long log. Place logs on lightly greased baking tray, about 10cm apart. Flatten slightly.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until skewer inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool on tray for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool for one hour.
- Cut each loaf into 2cm wide diagonal slices. Place slices on an ungreased baking tray, and bake at 160ºC for 9 minutes. Turn biscuits over, and bake for 7 to 9 minutes. Cool completely, then store in an airtight container.
The clinic getting ready to see all the patients
Imagine the scandal if one of these were in an NHS hospital roaming around the eye clinic…