- India is home to one of the world's largest populations of blind children, estimated at nearly 400,000. Many of these children receive no education, and girls are often victims of physical and sexual abuse.
- As a neuroscientist, the author decided to try to help cataract-stricken children and young adults gain the ability to see the world far beyond the age at which developing vision was deemed to be possible.
- Surgery often proved a success, even for some of those well into their 20s. The procedure also provided the scientists on the author's team with a new understanding of the functioning of the visual system.
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My mother used to keep a small blue glass bowl of change near the door of our house in New Delhi. When she went out, she would take a few coins as alms for the poor that one inevitably sees on the city's streets. Given how quickly you can become desensitized to the abundance of human misery in India, I was always impressed by her unwavering adherence to this ritual.
The bowl lay unused for several months as my mother battled cancer. When I went back to India in 2002, a year after her death, I noticed that it was one of the few items of hers that my father had saved. Little did I realize that it was going to change my life.
This article was originally published with the title Once Blind and Now They See.