Saving Little Marla From A Life of Blindness

Little Marla was born with congenital cataracts. If she hadn't received surgery at an Orbis-supported hospital in Mongolia, she would have been at risk of permanent vision loss. Now, she is just one member of the generations of children who can now grow up to lead independent lives with healthy sight.​

Ever since we posted Marla's story on social media, thousands of people have commented on, shared, and liked her photos — and that’s understandable!

Marla is an adorable little girl from Mongolia who loves the color pink, has a toddler’s boundless energy, and enjoys playing with her toys.

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Click the post to glimpse the thousands of wonderful messages left for little Marla by the Orbis community

Marla’s life could have been much different. Like her mother, father, and maternal grandmother, she was born with congenital cataracts — a clouding of the eye’s natural lens that can render a child blind.

Marla’s doctor urged her parents to take her to the National Center for Maternal and Child Health (NCMCH), an Orbis partner hospital in Ulaanbaatar, when Marla was just 19 days old.

At NCMCH, Dr. Shamsiya Murat examined her, confirmed the diagnosis — and knew she had to act quickly. If congenital cataracts aren’t treated when an infant is between six and eight weeks old, the child could suffer permanent vision loss.

Despite her family’s fears, Dr. Murat performed the surgery when this little girl was 42 days old—at the time becoming the youngest person in Mongolia to have cataract surgery.

Pediatric ophthalmologist Dr. Shamsiya Murat performed Marla's cataracts surgery

Pediatric ophthalmologist Dr. Shamsiya Murat performed Marla's cataracts surgery

Marla’s mother had surgery when she was two years old, but it was too late to fully restore her sight. That’s why Marla’s grandmother was eager for her granddaughter to receive care immediately. She didn’t want the third generation of her family to struggle.

Marla’s mother remembers that a few weeks after the procedure, her daughter looked toward her and started to make sounds, which indicated that she could see!

Marla's mother and grandmother were also born with congenital cataracts

Marla's mother didn't want her to be visually impaired by congenital cataracts like she was

Thanks to the generosity of people like you, children like Marla are able to receive the top-quality eye care they need and deserve for generations to come.

Already, donations from our kind supporters have helped us to screen more than 97,000 children in schools, communities and hospitals to date, including more than 1,000 babies who have been screened for retinopathy of prematurity at our partner NCMCH.

Despite our successes, there is still more work to do! In Mongolia, access to high quality, affordable eye care services is limited in both urban and rural areas.

Lack of equipment, training and infrastructure are major barriers to adequate care and there is no comprehensive framework to treat children’s eye disease. With the help of our supporters, we can achieve so much more.

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