What he had not anticipated was the powerful impact this experience would have on his own life. “My work with SEE International is challenging and inspiring; very much a two-way process,” says Dr Joseph. “I have gained just as much from my experience as I have given back. Many of the cases are not ordinary cataracts. Patients are often young with traumatic cataracts, or they are old with complex cataracts. I’ve had to learn to operate in less than ideal circumstances, where the water or electricity supply or both can stop at any time. But I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the world’s most dedicated ophthalmologists, and the experience has been one of personal growth and confidence for me”.
This seems to be an ongoing learning process. At the end of a follow-up Eye Camp in Namibia, where Dr Joseph and his colleagues operated on more than 125 patients, they walked into a local hall where the patients had gathered to say goodbye. “Every patient, who had previously been brought in blind, and who could now see, came forward and in turn clasped each surgeon’s hand in thanks. The room spilled over with emotion,” says Dr Joseph.
Cataract-induced blindness in this part of the world robs the individual of the ability to work and earn a living, and the social and economic consequences of blindness, are staggering. Dr Joseph expands, “Our work isn’t just about giving people back their sight; we are helping them get their lives back.”
Since that first expedition, Dr Joseph has participated in nine more. He is one of hundreds of ophthalmologists from around the globe, that have teamed up with SEE International to devote their time and energy to fight cataract induced blindness, and other eye diseases in the developing world.