Alfredo Vigolo – Not a Work Injury

I lost my eye in 1964. I used to do cement work. There were stairs on the side of a building with scaffolding. We were working there with dry cement. The wind blew some into my eye. I went to the doctor who gave me some drops but they didn’t work. Then he sent me to an eye specialist at Royal Perth Hospital.

They operated straight away. I was there for three weeks. I could only see a little light. Then I was put back in hospital for another six weeks. Then there was another operation and nine weeks in hospital. They used a lot of steam treatment. They didn’t want me to move. My eye still wasn’t much good.

A specialist I went to see recommended a specialist in Melbourne. A friend collected some money so I could fly to see this professor in Melbourne. He said, “It’s not much good. You are young, we’ll try”. The operation took eight and a half hours and involved several skin grafts. On Saturday, a day or so after the operation I went home to Perth. The operation did no good, I eventually lost the eye.

I had a young family. During my recovery I had to stay home and look after the baby. My wife had to go out to work. There was no workers compensation as the initial doctor had written cataract rather than work injury. It wasn’t my boss’s fault. When I told the specialist in Melbourne he said I was far too young to have a cataract. Anyway there was no help.

After a few months I went back to the same job with the same company. I was blind in that eye for thirty-five years before my doctor recommended I have the eye removed. The eye would dry out and cause me a lot of pain.

It’s all right having an artificial eye. I feel better. Not many people can tell. It’s better. I thank Paul and his sister. They do a good job.

As told to Julia Sutton. Reprinted with permission from Alfredo Vigolo. You may link to this story, but please do not copy or otherwise circulate