Nilukshi Shamika Karunathilaka, 13, from Kiriwandala village, Sri Lanka, in 2011 developed dry eyes and sensitivity to light as a side effect to a drug she had taken for a body infection. A local doctor diagnosed Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS); there was no improvement despite a surgery. She dropped out of school; her father was compelled to forego his daily wages as a labourer to stay home and look after Nilukshi. He could ill afford the expensive eye drops required to induce artificial tears in his daughter’s dry and suffering eyes. Shamalka Perera, a fellow Sri Lankan, came forward to help them. She connected with Dr Virender Sangwan who assured free treatment for Nilukshi at LVPEI Hyderabad.
Shamalka raised funds for the family’s travel and stay. In July, Dr Bhupesh Bagga successfully performed Mucous Membrane Grafting in the lower eyelids of both Nilukshi’s eyes and the upper eyelid of her left eye. As further treatment, the Contact Lens Department prescribed PROSE (Prosthetic Replacement of the Ocular Surface Ecosystem), Boston Scleral Lens. The major challenge throughout the treatment was the language barrier, as the family spoke only Sinhala. Shamalka would help interpret the several phone calls and emails from the LVPEI team. In the end, all the efforts have been worth it. Nilukshi’s vision has improved significantly and she can now keep her eyes open. The order for the lenses has already been placed and will be couriered to Sri Lanka, along with the instruction video and cleaning solution.