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DHAKA: When poor eyesight forced Motiur Rahman to abandon his pulled rickshaw, there seemed to be no hope he would find another means of support – until last month, when Saudi doctors treated his cataract and gave it new life.

Rahman, 62, was among hundreds of people who underwent eye surgery when eye doctors from the Kingdom arrived in the Chapainawabganj area in northwestern Bangladesh in late September.

“I was almost blind before the operation. But with the grace of Allah the Almighty, now I completely agree with my (view),” he said. “I feel like (I) am reborn. I can see things like when I started.

The Saudi Noor volunteer program between September 23 and October 1 was organized by the Al-Basar International Foundation, a Saudi NGO working in the field of blindness prevention, with support from the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center or KSrelief.

“A total of 15 doctors came from Saudi Arabia,” Dr. Ahmed Taher Hamid Ali, Al-Basar’s country director for Bangladesh, told Arab News. “They were very willing to provide quality eye care to underprivileged people.”

The doctors’ work was facilitated by Al-Basar’s local partner, Al-Noor Eye Hospital in Dhaka, which organized a medical camp at its Chapainawabganj sub-branch, some 300 kilometers from the capital.

According to hospital data, Saudi doctors had examined and treated 4,610 patients and performed 519 cataract surgeries in one week.

“They choose to help in Bangladesh based on need,” Ali said.

Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the South Asian nation where 1.5% of adults are blind and 21.6% have low vision.

The treatment involved the latest medical technology and was free to anyone who sought help.

“It was totally free and I didn’t spend a penny on the operation. I even received free medicine and ointments for post-operative treatment,” said Fazar Ali, a 72-year-old man who was forced to retire from his fresh produce business when he started losing his seen a few years ago.

“I have suffered from poor eyesight for a few years. I couldn’t even recognize people’s faces,” he said. “After the operation, I can see better now.”

Mohammad Naimul Huq, a 68-year-old farmer and another Saudi program beneficiary, returned to work just days after lens replacement surgery.

“I received very good care at the clinic. It was a successful operation on my right eye,” he told Arab News. “After the operation, I can work perfectly as before again.”