The First Step Feb. 2011 - Page 24

Reggie From Uluru Reggie was suffering from poor eyesight and Reggies father could no longer see when he passed away. “I was worried it would happen to me” Reggie admitted. , As a traditional owner of Uluru, Reggie is a man with responsibilities. He must teach the young ones his knowledge of the land, important areas and sights. Aboriginal people are six times more likely than non-Aboriginal people to become blinded by eye disease. They have a much higher rate because there is not enough services available to them to effectively treat them in the early stages. The Fred Hollows Foundation works with Aboriginal communities with the assistance of their supporters. They are currently working in partnership with the Alice Springs Hospital, the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, the Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation, Federal and Territory governments, to run two week long surgery sessions a year to treat 80 people, like Reggie. They also work with local partners and government organisations aiming to provide $3 million towards building a dedicated eye centre in Alice Springs. In one eye, Reggie had a developing cataract. If this was left untreated, he would eventually turn him blind in that eye. His other eye needed an eyelid operation to prevent eyelashes going inward and scratching his eye otherwise it could cause ulceration and scarring to the cornea, also possibly causing blindness if untreated. Thankfully the operation went well. When Reggie’s eye patch was removed, his grin spread right across his face. "I'm happy that I can see again," he beamed. "I am happy to see theyoung kids and my grandchildren in the community growing up."