Original Research

Waiting for cataract intervention for people with curable blindness: Lived experiences

Buyiswa M. Sitole, Emeka Obioha
African Vision and Eye Health | Vol 81, No 1 | a727 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aveh.v81i1.727 | © 2022 Buyiswa M. Sitole, Emeka Obioha | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 December 2021 | Published: 14 September 2022

About the author(s)

Buyiswa M. Sitole, Department of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha, South Africa
Emeka Obioha, Department of Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences and Law, Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha, South Africa


Background: People living with curable blindness (PWCB) in the rural areas of the Eastern Cape province wait for long periods of time to access cataract surgical interventions. They wait for periods exceeding eight months, while they are unable to take proper care of themselves. Family caregivers must adapt their lives and accommodate the needs of the incapacitated person.

Aim: To explore and describe the experiences of PWCB awaiting surgical intervention and their family caregivers in the Oliver Reginald (OR) Tambo District of the Eastern Cape province, South Africa.

Setting: The study was conducted in the OR Tambo District communities in the Eastern Cape.

Methods: The study followed a descriptive phenomenological design to study the experiences of PWCB and their family caregivers. A purposive sampling approach was used to select the district, referral hospital, households and participants. Data were collected using in-depth interviews. Tesch’s thematic method of analysis was used to code data into themes and subthemes.

Results: Findings of the in-depth interviews revealed two main themes and nine subthemes. The main themes were dependence on others and carrying the burden related to care for the afflicted individual. Theme 1 had six subthemes: (1.1) personal care and household chores, (1.2) attending to health, (1.3) accessing public transport, (1. 4) lack of dignity, (1.5) taking care of own finances and (1.6) attending to spiritual needs. Theme 2 had three subthemes: (2.1) inconvenience, (2.2) impatience and (2.3) pity.

Conclusion: People waiting for excessively long periods of time for surgical interventions cannot function independently, resulting in them becoming a burden to others in their family units.

Contribution: The untold difficulties and stories of people living in deep rural areas, as brought to light in this study, represent a positive contribution to the overall body of knowledge.



patients with curable blindness; activities of daily living; family caregivers; orientation and mobility; deep rural areas


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