Hicham Novara from Morocco getting his vision checked

Hicham Novara, a swimmer from Morocco, gets his eyes tested to determine the strength of his needed perscription, a -22 in one eye and -13 in the other.

That was the reaction of Fotis Velissarakos, the volunteer doctor in charge of the Opening Eyes venue at Healthy Athletes to Hicham Novara, a swimmer from Morocco competing at World Games. Hicham came to Healthy Athletes with extremely bad vision but wearing no glasses.

When he looked at his cell phone, he held it up less than two inches from his eye so he could see, and before the exam, he sat alone and only spoke with asked a question. But by the time he finished his eye exam and was wearing corrective lenses, he was smiling, talking to his coach, and proudly showing the volunteers pictures of his friends on his phone – and holding it at arm’s length.

Hicham’s vision was one of the worst among the more than 1000 athletes seen so far at Opening Eyes.  “That is probably why he is a swimmer,” Fotis said. “You don’t really need full vision to swim.”

His uncorrected vision was an astonishing -22 in one eye and -13 in the other — essentially blind.  The free eyeglasses he will receive from Special Olympics will partially correct his vision, but the doctors also recommended that he get contact lenses when returning home.

Special Olympics for the Middle East/North Africa region will be following up
with Hicham to ensure he receives appropriate follow-up care.

See more photos of Hicham and Opening Eyes.

7 thoughts on ““It’s amazing he was even walking around”

  1. Wow, Im am so glad to have worked at the Opening Eyes center!! Getting to talked to Mr Novara was awazing! I thank you so much for letting me do this Fotis!!!

  2. with his new sight on this world, hopefully he will do better at most of his daily activities, and will catch up with his agegroup fast. It is not a SOLCIOE ‘first’ encounter of an athlete who is PRIMARILY visually held back and can develop when we do our best to support, train and equip them with the best tools all-in-one. It is ALL worth somuch !

  3. Pingback: Getting to Know the Healthy Athletes Program | Change Thru Sport

  4. Stories like these give us an insight into how others live and manage in other parts of the world and is truly the sentiment of the Olympics.

    • Hi Alice: ‘-13’ means he is to receive spectacles that are stronger than usual.
      He could only see everything that was held close to his eyes. Now with the glasses he can start to see in the distance much much better ! Most people that wear minus lenses need minus two or three or four so he needs lets say four-to-five times stronger spectacle lenses than most of the other shortsighted people need to wear..
      It is not known how well he can see things when he was tested (20/200 you wrote)
      He may learn to see much better than that !
      thanks for asking !

      Onno Rueck
      Regional Clinical Advisor for SOLCIOE Europe-Eurasia
      Special Olympics Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes

  5. AWESOME story I am so glad for him i know what it is not to be able to see good and the relief of seeing again is the greatest feeling. So happy that there still good people in this world like the doctors that helped him!

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