Friday, 4 October 2013

Overcoming Ocular Albinism and Nystagmus

This is the story of B Yadagiri a client of the Centre for Sight Enhancement at LVPEI who overcame his handicap and is now gainfully placed as a senior technical officer with Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), a Ministry of Defense (MoD) organisation. 

B Yadagiri was born in 1983 to a lower middle class family. Soon after his birth, parents and relatives were in for a shock when they noticed the newborn's white body colour and hair. The little child also had his eyes and body shaking considerably. But somehow the boy survived and was soon admitted to primary school where the temple priest of the village taught in the Telugu medium. The priest observed little Yadagiri's difficulty in reading and writing and promptly reported this to his parents. 

This was in 1986-87 when there were no reputed private eye hospitals. The boy was taken to Sarojini Devi Eye Hospital where he was prescribed glasses, but the thickness and weight of the glasses was too much for the small child. The doctor also informed the parents that consecutive consanguinous marriages in the family could have been the reason for the condition of the child. When Yadagiri was in the 5th standard in 1995, a doctor from a private practice declared him to be unfit for higher studies and suggested his parents stop sending him to school and look for alternative options for his livelihood. 

Though disappointed to hear this, the boy’s father neither stopped his education nor did he discriminate him against his other siblings. This Yadagiri opines is one of important reasons for his success today. However, he found it increasingly difficult to read or write, and managed only with support from his Telugu teacher. Socially too he faced ridicule and teasing from other children who called him names (white haired boy, old man, etc) but he was never disappointed or discouraged. 

In 1997, a relative who had undergone surgery at LVPEI, recommended the institute to Yadagiri. At the Centre for Sight Enhancement (CSE)), he was surprised when Dr Vijaya Gothwal asked him to dye his hair. When he failed to do so the next day, she said that she would not examine him. So he returned to the hospital having dyed his hair. He was told that his was a case of Ocular Albinism and Nystagmus and it could not be cured as it was a genetic disorder. But the doctor and the patient did not give up hope; they tried the use of various techniques and low vision devices like magnifier, peaked cap (to avoid sunlight as he was also sensitive to heat) and full sleeved shirts to cover his hands, use of tinted glasses (which gave a lot of improvement), black ink pen, hand held magnifier, telescope, etc. 

Later, when Yadagiri joined a polytechnic course, the telescope proved very useful. He ended up scoring 91% and was the top scorer in his class. He went on to procure a government certificate for the physically handicapped that facilitated special privileges, and pursued his higher studies in engineering and is now gainfully employed with BDL. He confidently takes care of the documentation of various projects for his company, and can also drive a bike and a car. He has recently married Deepthi who is an electronics graduate.

Yadagiri expresses his gratitude to LVPEI and in particular to CSE and believes that all eye hospitals should have low vision centres to help their clients.

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