Little Rose from Mongolia smiles during a post-surgery eye exam

World Sight Day: Saving Rose’s vision

As we celebrate World Sight Day—a global event highlighting the importance of eye care—meet an adorable little girl from Mongolia. Her vision was restored thanks to our wonderful supporters and partners, who are helping us create a long-lasting legacy of quality eye care by making our training projects possible.

Around 338 million people around the globe live with blindness or moderate to severe visual impairment, but a staggering 77% of cases are completely avoidable. Until quite recently, four-year-old Sarnai (meaning "Rose" in Mongolian) was part of these statistics.

Now she’s back at home growing up with clear vision alongside the baby goats and lambs she loves so much! Follow her journey to healthy sight below.

Rose and her grandma holding goats outside her family's home in rural Mongolia

In rural Mongolia, where Rose lives, quality eye care is difficult to access.

A Concerning Swelling Impacted Rose's Vision

Rose and her grandma during a follow-up eye exam in Mongolia

Rose smiling with her grandmother following surgery to remove a tumor in her eye.

Like many toddlers, when Rose was about three years old, she got a cold. Along with the usual symptoms—like fever and a runny nose—her family noticed an odd swelling in her eye. As she recovered, the swelling vanished—until the next time she caught a cold, that is.

Rose’s mother saw their local doctor in the rural Uvurkhangai province of Mongolia, who recommended taking her to a specialist, but because the slight swelling seemed to come and go, the family wasn’t initially too concerned.

About a year later, the swelling returned. But this time, it didn’t go away. The nomadic family lived in the countryside with their goats, lambs, and other livestock, so traveling with a toddler to visit a specialist eye clinic was going to be a challenge. But with the family growing more and more anxious, they made the six-hour journey to the National Center for Maternal and Child Health, an Orbis partner hospital in the capital, Ulaanbaatar.

The family met with Dr. Battsetseg, a pediatric surgeon who specializes in retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) and oculoplastics. She immediately realized how serious the young girl’s condition really was. Although she wasn’t in pain, the swelling remained as her vision deteriorated.



Dr. Battsetseg suspected that Rose had a rare tumor in her eye socket that was putting pressure on her eye and causing the swelling. Tumors impacting the eye can endanger vision and lead to blindness in several ways, but they most often compress the optic nerve or the muscles that are responsible for moving the eyeball.

Dr. Battsetseg holds up X-ray images of her patient's eye

Dr. Battsetseg looks at X-ray images of Rose's eye.

They’re also difficult to diagnose decisively ahead of surgery—making consultations with doctors who have prior experience treating them incredibly valuable.

A History of Training and Mentorship Transformed Rose’s Sight

Dr. Battsetseg admitted Rose right away. Then, she logged in to our e-learning platform Cybersight to consult with Dr. Ron Pelton, a member of our Volunteer Faculty based in Colorado.

The two doctors had first met in 2018 during a hands-on training in Mongolia as part of a Flying Eye Hospital project. They became friends, with Dr. Pelton serving as a mentor and advisor to Dr. Battsetseg, providing expertise and support on complex, rare cases—all facilitated by Cybersight.

Using his nearly two decades of experience in treating patients with similar conditions, Dr. Pelton reviewed Rose’s chart and images of her eye. He suggested a diagnosis—a hemangioma, or benign tumor, of the eyelid—and recommended surgical steps to restore the little girl’s sight.

Mongolian Doctor Dr. battsetseg and Orbis Volunteer Faculty Dr. Ron Pelton meet on Cybersight to discuss a clinical case

Dr. Battsetseg and Orbis Volunteer Faculty member Dr. Ron Pelton connected on Cybersight to discuss Rose's unique case.

Dr. Battsetseg appreciates the relationship Cybersight helps her maintain with Dr. Pelton: “He provides the exact necessary information based on his experience. His advice is simple ... and helps us solve cases that seemingly can’t be solved.

The family had anxiously journeyed far for treatment—and Cybersight helped bridge the even greater distance to making sure the little girl got a proper diagnosis and world-class care.

Rose’s surgery was successful, and, at her two-month check-up, her eyelid had completely healed. After the surgery, Rose’s delighted grandmother told us: “I was anxious about what might happen in the future,” she said. “Now we’re finally relaxed. With the help of many good doctors, here and abroad, this was possible.”

Dr. Battsetseg examines her patient's vision during a follow-up exam.

Dr. Battsetseg examines Rose's vision during a follow-up exam.

Help More Kids Like Rose See This World Sight Day and Beyond

Rose smiling with a baby goat outside of her home in rural Mongolia

There are many children like Rose who are hoping to see better.

World Sight Day, the most important day in the eye health calendar, is a vital opportunity to highlight just how critical eye care is. Little Rose can see today and thrive tomorrow because of the connections and world-class care ensured by an invaluable blend of virtual and hands-on skills building.

Over the last few years, we have shifted towards building the skills of eye care teams virtually, and quite rightly so. However, this year’s World Sight Day means so much to us as we begin reviving our in-person training projects on our Flying Eye Hospital and in our partner hospitals for the first time since the pandemic began.

Now we’re taking everything we’ve learned about the power of virtual learning during the pandemic and incorporating it into in-person training models. This means we can make a greater impact than ever and build an even more hopeful future in sight for millions around the world. But we can’t do it alone!

Your support makes this work possible—and, together, we can do so much more. We’re already planning other in-person trainings in places where children and adults need vital care.

The future is in sight. Help us get there by making a gift to Orbis today.


Help us train more eye health teams around the globe

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