'I could not see my wife's face': Dubai expat's vision restored after life-changing corneal transplant surgery

'Imagine being able to see things, yet not being able to see them properly,' says Hudhaifa, speaking of his life before the procedure



File photo for illustrative purposes only
File photo for illustrative purposes only

By Web Desk

Published: Mon 9 Jan 2023, 6:40 PM

A 30-year-old Iraqi national’s vision was restored through a corneal transplant surgery performed at Fakeeh University Hospital’s Surgical Institute.

Hudhaifa Khadim, a government worker by profession, experienced blurry vision, challenging his personal and professional life. He had extremely blurry vision in his right eye and found it difficult to perform routine everyday activities. He understood the reason for his deteriorating vision after visiting Dr. Vladimir Tchouprine, Specialist Ophthalmology at Fakeeh University Hospital, Dubai Silicon Oasis.

“I could not see the world clearly, I could not understand if the faces I see were happy or sad, I could not see my wife’s face clearly and this was an extremely difficult time for me. Imagine being able to see things, yet not being able to see it properly,” said Hudhaifa, describing his situation prior to his eye surgery.

“Corneal dystrophy is a rare genetic disease affecting the outermost part of the eye - cornea. There are several types of corneal dystrophies, each with varying symptoms. This is a slow progressing condition in which a foreign material builds up in the cornea of the eye. This causes eye pain/discomfort, blurry vision, and impaired vision over time. We all know how uncomfortable it is when one has smeared glasses, that’s exactly how a person with corneal dystrophy sees the world,” said Dr. Vladimir Tchouprine, Specialist Ophthalmology at Fakeeh University Hospital

The disease is characterised by intense clouding of the cornea resulting in significant decrease in visual acuity. Hudhaifa underwent corneal graft surgery, also known as penetrating keratoplasty led by Dr. Vladimir. This was the only effective way of treatment and involved removal and replacement of the damaged cornea with a donor cornea. The uniqueness of the surgery lies in the combination of eye surgery and organ transplant.

“Post-surgery, now I can see the world clearly, I see people and their beautiful smiles. I thank God and thank Dr. Vladimir at Fakeeh University Hospital for everything,” said an elated Hudhaifa.

The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness reported that in 2020, there were an estimated 600,000 people with vision loss in the UAE.

“Not every problem requires a surgical solution, however most people aren’t concerned about eye problems until they have blurry vision. Regular visits to an ophthalmologist can help prevent severe eye complications and improve a person’s quality of life,” added Dr. Vladimir.

Hudhaifa was discharged 3 days post-surgery and was very happy with the initial results of improved vision. The restoration of high visual acuity ensured him, active involvement in his professional and personal life.

Those who undergo corneal graft are generally advised to anticipate slow progress in their vision. It usually takes a year until vision is fully restored. Most patients wear corrective glasses during this period and administer prescribed medications.

Extremely impressed by the initial results of the surgery, Hudhaifa plans to have the surgery performed on his left eye as well in the future.

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