For Jaz Somal, lockdown, turning 50, and a tragedy which struck in January when his good friend passed away suddenly, have led him to a health MOT and correcting the poor vision he had been putting up with for the past few years.
These changes, in turn, led to him penning an inspirational poem capturing the essence that anything you envisage can be achieved. He describes it as a play on words, that he can see clearly now and knows where he wants to go, and includes the lines:
Vision is more than sight
It’s an inner knowing
Where you’re going
No more, wondering aimlessly
Living life in a hurry
I’ve been partially sighted
Things don’t look so blurry
The aim is in sight
The vision is clearer
Taking one step closer
I can see where I’m going
Jaz explains: “A close friend of 35 years, Jagjit Singh Sidhu, ‘Judge’, went out for a run and died of a sudden heart attack. We spent years playing football together, socialised and went on holidays together. for this to happen when he was only 54 years old was a big shock, there was no sign of any problems.
“Sometimes it takes a life event – whether it’s Covid, or something personal – to reflect, and it was as if Judge left us all with a message, and at this point I decided I needed to fix myself. This included having the cataract operation which I had been putting off.”
Jaz’s eyes were impacted by early-onset cataract. Despite being relatively young for this condition, it was clouding his vision to such an extent that Jaz, a keen footballer with GGNP Football Club Coventry, would struggle to distinguish the opposition on the pitch.
“It was especially hard to play football when the sun was low, as the cataracts caused glare, making it really hard to see the ball, and which players were which.
“On another occasion I saw an elderly Asian lady walking towards me one day who had the demeanour and image of my mum – it was not until she was close up that I realised it was not her! I knew then, I had to fix my eyesight.”
Jaz thoroughly researched his treatment options as he wanted to progress with an eye surgeon of great reputation but also who was an expert in the field and up to date in latest research. This led him to Mr Amir Hamid from Optegra eye hospital group – which has hospitals across the UK including Birmingham and London.
Jaz explains: “I had health insurance so had the advantage of being able to choose the country’s best facilities. And I could not believe, once treated, how bad my vision had become, as it had changed so gradually over time. I had both eyes treated a week apart, and for that week I just kept looking at details on leaves and trees and seeing the difference…. from one eye compared the other.
“It is like HD vision – when I was younger and used to walk into shops and compare the brand new TV’s with what we had at home, and it would blow you away! Well, this is how it is now with my actual eyes! Everything is so sharp and clear.”
He was so impressed by his treatment and the change in his vision that he penned a poem*, ‘Life through a new lens’ which captures his experiences of the past year.
Mr Amir Hamid, ophthalmic surgeon and Medical Director at Optegra, said: “It is not uncommon for people in this age group to develop cataract, and as Jaz said, the symptoms can develop very gradually. It is often not until people have the procedure that they realise how poor their vision had become – cloudy, faded colours, bright lights causing glare, and sometimes even double vision. I would urge anyone with these symptoms – whatever their age – to book an eye health check without delay.”
Jaz, who is married with three children, runs several businesses in Coventry including ‘Street Caffe’ which offers street food, both from Central Six Retail Park and at ASDA Abbey Park.
Optegra Eye Health Care is a specialist provider of ophthalmic services in the UK. It operates 23 eye hospitals and clinics, bringing together leading-edge research, medical expertise and state-of-the-art surgical equipment. Its top ophthalmic surgeons are renowned for their areas of expertise, offering excellent clinical outcomes.