Vision accomplished: 6 month old baby can finally see after intricate surgery! Pretoria Eye Institute

From now on, her parents agree, she will be happier still, and able to catch up on all the developmental milestones she has missed due to her blindness.


Pretoria, South Africa – Half a year of pain, sadness, trauma and uncertainty ended for Rejeanne and Pieter Lombard on Monday when eye specialist Dr Jacobus Pauw removed the second cataract from the eyes of their daughter, Dane-Lize, who will be six months old next week.

The first cataract was removed last Friday, after which Dane-Lize was able to see her parents, if not entirely clearly, for the first time. Says mother Rejeanne.

“As opposed to turning her head to me, she looked right at me, and this little smile appeared on her face”.

While nothing seemed untoward at first after Dane-Lize’s birth, the couple discovered a week after her birth that their little girl had cataracts on both eyes, causing total blindness. This led to a series of costly tests, and the realisation that the gift of sight for their precious baby would cost R70 000. This was out of the question for the Lombards who have no medical aid. Rejeanne applied for a bank loan of R35 000 to start the process but was not granted anywhere near the whole amount. They were, she says, at wit’s end, and in despair.

It was at this point that a paediatrician referred them to the Pretoria Eye Institute’s specialist in Pretoria North, Dr Uli Kunzmann. Kunzmann contacted the Institute’s marketing manager, Maryke Lotz, who got in touch with King Pie CEO, André Els. King Pie is a proud, long-standing partner of the Pretoria Eye Institute through the brand’s Denis van Olst Trust – a charity fund created to help make a permanent change in the lives of underprivileged children affected with Strabismus, an ailment in which the eyes do not properly align with each other when looking at an object.

Through the Pretoria Eye Institute, the treatment these children receive permanently improves their vision and quality of life. To date, over 50 underprivileged children have either received glasses or much-needed eye surgery.

After learning about Dane-Lize’s condition, King Pie made the funds for the procedure available right away.

Soon a surgery team was compiled to take on the giant job of giving a small child sight. Led by renowned Pretoria Eye Institute specialist, Dr Jacobus Pauw, the team attended to their tiny patient with a combination of absolute skill and infinite tenderness – from the anaesthetics to the actual surgery.

The procedure that was used is known as an intra-ocular lens implant, during which an artificial lens is placed inside the eye, replacing the focusing power of a natural, opacified (cataract) lens that is surgically removed. In the case of Dane-Lize, the operation was done with a new machine, the QUBE® PRO, which allows doctors to exert finer and better control. The Pretoria Eye Institute is the only hospital, and the first in South Africa, to obtain the QUBE® PRO.

Miraculously, despite her blindness, says Rejeanne, Dane-Lize has been the happiest of babies; always laughing. And while, or perhaps because she cannot see, her hearing is particularly acute. When she hears a new voice, she will immediately put her hands on the person’s face as a way of getting to know them. From now on, her parents agree, she will be happier still, and able to catch up on all the developmental milestones she has missed due to her blindness.

Pauw is satisfied that both operations have been successful, but points out that Dane-Lize will not be able to see perfectly immediately. The process, he explains, is gradual and could take months, as the brain also has to accept the new lenses. And while it is unlikely that Dane-Lize will have to undergo another operation, she will probably have to wear spectacles.

“But the important thing is not that she will be wearing glasses, but that she will be able to see,” he concludes.

Sources: Pretoria Eye Institute
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