An ordinary morning, in October 2018, a call from the public relations department of the hospital informs me about an appointment for an eye prosthesis. This is routine at first and in the course of my career in ophthalmology and optometry, not surprisingly. For some colleagues, I’m certainly not quite the standard. Who goes to India for a year and learns by the way the craft of the eye maker? Always, the vision and eye care was the task, I took on as a duty. For myself, to improve as a continuous process, a pair of eyes makes it complete and is the normal life situation. For a human being, the self-awareness when an eye is gone, is a very important aspect, especially if it is a child. As there are not many eye makers in Jordan, this was another task that was of utter importance to me.
A New Eye for a Child from Syria
On the phone, I learn that the appointment is for a special patient, and the case is a complex medical and psychological task. Upon inspection of the patient file in the office of the head of public relations, it reveals that the patient is a child who has lost an eye due to a bomb explosion in the war in Syria.
The file shows that the face had been severely injured and the patient, now in the host country Jordan, had to undergo several reconstructive operations on the face as well as the eye socket. The child and his relatives sought refuge from the grave violence and cruelty of the war in Syria. The particular mental burden of children usually means a continuous absence of normalcy, and the ongoing fighting and war situation causes lasting traumatic damage.
Ocular Prosthesis for Ahmed
The next morning, I waited in the clinic until the child and his parents were in the examination room with me to start the treatment. When I saw him, my feelings got mixed up. On the one hand, I am the doctor who makes the cosmetic eye, a glass prosthesis for him, but on the other hand, this child was now in my care to „eliminate“ war damage in order to restore the outward appearance given by our Creator. Like any other believer, I find it difficult to see the loss of humanity in the current world political situation. Therefore, I feel a special responsibility towards this child, even though I realize that it survived, and „lost only one eye“. As a vision and eye care specialist, and the knowledge and experience due to the course of my career, this is a small consolation only, as I am very much aware of the importance of this organ.
An eye that does not see but is of importance!
To participate ‘fully functional’ in society and a modern life, the vision is very important. Also, in some parts of the world, it is a challenge to live a self-determined life and being, recognized as an individual with the stigma by losing an eye. Every time he cleans his eye prosthesis and inserts it into the surgically physiological, reconstructed eye socket. The child will be remembered all his life of that day in the war in Syria, what was once his homeland.
In the Middle East, we got used to the merchants of death, the people and actors who run war as a business. You never get used to human suffering, and the disfigured faces every new day brings up.
The respect for the individual, whether it is a big or small man, a small woman and an even smaller child is not present for a long time and hidden, maybe even lost forever one might believe.
This eight-year-old boy, Ahmed, was very calm and focused at the first examination and when I took the first molding of the eye socket (gypsum-eye). The many follow-up examinations with the measurements and adjustments were very energy-draining and exhausting for all concerned. The calmness and the consciousness of this child increasingly surprised me, as if it were twenty, and not eight years old.
A usual bomb explosion in Syria
Yes, children prematurely „age“ in their minds and perceptions when they experience a war and its scourge and its associated tragedies. To experience one’s own tragedy and the other people means nothing else than to steal from these children their childhood and dreams.
We all must fulfill our duty for the present and the future generations. The target and purpose must be to ensure the most fundamental rights of humanity. The right for life and security. We try to restore what humanity in general, and especially for this child, should never have lost. A peaceful world with respect and love for all our fellow human beings. So far, we have often failed here, and lack of money was usually not the problem.
Back to Ahmed. Many routine medical visits were necessary to make the cosmetic eye as beautiful as possible. From a medical point of view, there were some obstacles that needed to be overcome. But in the end, we were allowed to experience a smile on the lips of this child, which perhaps, has not given up the hope after all these surgeries.
Case and patient description, Amman, Jordan: Dr. Shaher Saad Eddin OD Jordan, MD, Ophthalmology, Doctoral staff in Armenia, and Ukraine. Since 2006, Dr. Shaher is connected to the network „The Optik Inspektor“ and found time to share one of his many experiences here. The version Arabic, English into German with the help of OD Sachsenhauser, Dubai, Dr. E.