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Grandmother Mavis Arnott saw her grand daughter Brianna for the first time in Port Hedland this month. Until this month's cataract surgery 75 year old Ms Arnott was blind. Post-surgery, the Martu woman, of Jigalong, about 500km out of Port Hedland, had normal vision in one eye. Brianna's face was no longer a shadowed mystery.
Jimmy Williams travelled even further for his cataract surgery. He came from the remote community of Parnngurr - 10 hours in the car, with half of that on an unsealed dirt track. The 67 year old wanted the dense cataract removed from his right eye in part so he could continue to hunt for the kangaroo and bush turkey that make up part of his traditional diet.
'I'm feeling good, you know,' Mr Williams said. 'I want to get better so I can see everything.'
Ms Arnott and Mr Williams owe their sight to Lions outback vision, a group established by the Lions Eye Institute and the University of WA four years ago in the face of statistics that show Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are six times more likely than other Australians to go blind.
Lions Outback Director and ophthalmologist Angus Turner, who performed the operations, said that the job was 'fantastic'.
'Patients who may have been blind in both eyes have a short procedure that doesn't cause pain and then the next day they can see their children and grandchildren,' Dr Turner said. 'It's just great to be part of that.'
Source: West Australian