A Mitchells Plain mother is yearning to see her children’s faces again after being diagnosed with an eye disease called Keratoconus.
Shireen Hermans (29) has less than 8% sight in only one eye and is considered legally blind. Feeling isolated and depressed due to her condition, the mother of two dreams of one thing and one thing only – seeing her children’s faces again.
According to the Eyes2Eyes Foundation, Hermans’ corneas are irregular, with steep troughs and cones. The organisation is dedicated to providing individuals with the gift of sight. They stated that glasses and ordinary contact lenses will not restore Shireen’s sight. The only way for her to achieve functional vision and avoid total blindness is to receive costly, custom-fit scleral lenses.
“For Shireen, sight loss means she can’t walk her daughters Zaarah (8) and Izra (3) to school or safely catch a bus with them. She simply can’t see the pavement or read the signs at the bus stop. When her husband is away for work, it’s not safe for her to venture out alone. Living with keratoconus is like life in permanent lockdown,” says Amanda Seccombe, founder of Eyes2Eyes.
She was referred to the organisation in November 2021, as the corneal disease is vastly underfunded and under-resourced in public hospitals in South Africa. With hopes to receive support from the public, the foundation has launched a crowdfunding campaign with a target of R25 000 – which will allow the mother to receive specialised lenses that will be designed and manufactured for her in New Zealand.
Funds will also cover the cost of Shireen’s fitting process which will be done in Cape Town, her monthly optometrist appointments and training on how to use the life-saving lenses.
“Restoring my vision will mean I can recognize the faces of my family and friends – not just their voices. I will be able to read to my girls. I wouldn’t have to rely on my daughter to read me prices at the stores and guide me with things all the time. Having my sight restored means I can get back to work and help with our financial problems at home. I will get my confidence and independence back and stop living a blurred depressed life, where I have to pretend everything is good,” she said.