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Vova, one of the children visiting in 2005, was partially blinded at an early age through an accident at school. Through the generosity of local consultants he received much needed treatment and was fitted with cosmetic lenses.

Link member Lesley recounts how she first became aware of Vova's condition:

When the pictures of the children visiting last summer arrived, I studied them thoroughly, trying to learn as many faces as possible before meeting them at Gatwick. As I looked at Vova’s picture, I saw that his left eye looked odd – opaque, and a different colour from the right. I thought that he was probably blind in that eye, and I made enquiries. The news came back that Vova was indeed blind in one eye.

Smiling boy from Belarus with injured eye

I approached a consultant at Ashtead Hospital and asked him to look at Vova’s photo. He was very interested – it turned out that his Grandmother was Russian, and he had learned to speak Russian as a child. He said that he thought that Vova was completely blind in that eye, and that it was very unlikely that any sight could be restored. However, he felt that Vova’s appearance could be made more normal if a cosmetic shell, or contact lens were fitted to cover the eyeball and said that he was happy to see Vova himself if the Optician that the children see felt that would be helpful. Vova and his mother were delighted at the news, and agreed immediately, sending a letter of consent to England with Vova.

Vova visited Rayners Opticians with the rest of the boys, and ws referred to a consultant.  The consultant advised us that Vova’s eye had not yet shrunk enough to take a full cosmetic shell, and a soft bandage contact lens would be most suitable. We were disappointed with this news, as a shell lasts for ten years, where a contact lens lasts for 12 – 18 months. We did not want to make Vova look normal for a few years, and then leave him back where he started. By this time, we knew that his injury had been caused by being pushed and falling onto a door handle at school aged six. He was very conscious of his eye looking different and had undergone two operations in Belarus without saving any sight, although he had been able to see light up until three years ago.

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