Apr 10


2 weeks of pain and traditional medicines and Suy Chearm’s vision wasn’t any better.

White and opaque, Chearm’s eye was blind from a friend’s deadly accurate sling shot. But after travelling some 3 hours and 120kms from Yieng Vien village this 15 year old boy wasn’t enjoying life like he ought to be. Just minutes before his surgery I asked him, ‘how do you feel’? 

One word. ‘Scared’.

Little wonder, as the young fella waits quietly while another patient is on the operating table at Battambang Ophthalmic Centre (BOC). It’s Tuesday afternoon and BOC is alive with activity. The surgical team are working like clockwork to get the 15 patients treated before the day comes to an end. Sitting on a stool in the operating room the teenager looks on. Dressed in surgical scrubs, caps and masks Dr Heng Ton and the ophthalmic nurses work away diligently in one corner of the room. 


When its time to hop up on the bench Dr Heng says the boy’s eye will be difficult to repair. The shot from the catapult has shattered the lens. The white fragments of the lens lie juxtiposed across the pupil making it impossible for the boy to see. The moment is surreal. Its as if the surgeon has challenged himself to do something amazing. He had that look in his eye, … mischievious, with a twist of Japanese comic book!

What followed was all that it promised. Scarey, difficult, daring and most important of all, … successful! Feeling like I was going to suffocate behind my mask while peering through the tandem operating microscope, I watched the old lens, piece by broken piece removed from the young boy’s eye and a beautifully clear new lens inserted in its place. Dr Heng confirmed it, … ‘perfect’!

Waiting in the post op area was the boy’s mum. Relief was visible. 

One last question to finish. ‘Will you be playing with sling shots again’?

One word. ‘No’. 

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