For Pauline Hildreth, a retired administrator from Leeds, her cataract had developed so severely that her local optician said she was at the highest prescription glasses – and the only option now was surgery.
Due to have cataract surgery last year when Covid struck, Pauline, 65, continued to manage with two pairs of glasses – for distance and for reading:
“I spent all my time with one pair of glasses on my head, the other on my eyes – or searching for both! It was just so frustrating not being able to see without them. I need to use subtitles on TV and could not read them without glasses, I could not even read packaging on the supermarket shelves.”
Once appointments opened up again, Pauline had new eye tests to check how her eyes had progressed and was informed about Cataract Refractive Surgery – an upgraded version of cataract surgery where the natural, cloudy lens of the eye is replaced by a personally-tailored, prescription lens – so the patient will not need glasses after treatment.
“Both my parents had cataract, so I was not surprised to have it – but I had watched my mum still struggling with reading glasses, and when I realised there was a treatment option so I could be completely free of glasses, I went for it!” she said.
Pauline went for diagnostic tests at the local Optegra Clinic Leeds and then had surgery at the Optegra Eye Hospital Yorkshire, based in Bradford. She had selected this hospital as her son had been delighted with his laser eye surgery there many years before – in fact with the same surgeon who then treated Pauline.
Mr Shafiq Rehman, consultant ophthalmic surgeon, said: “Pauline’s prescription was really quite high and so she was totally dependent on glasses all the time. As she had cataract also, her vision was further reduced and so we recommended a treatment which could resolve both issues. She now has 20/20 vision and we are delighted for her.”
Pauline admits to being terribly nervous ahead of surgery, not knowing what to expect: “But in fact, I felt no pain at all, could not see what was going on which I had been worried about, and before I knew it, it was all over! All the staff put me at ease, so all that worry had not been necessary.
“I definitely, 100 percent, put off my appointment because I was worried, and I just wish I had done this ages ago. When I am reading, watching TV or gardening – it is all so much clearer now, and my quality of life is so much better!”
Pauline, who is married with two sons and a young granddaughter, says she could see the difference immediately after her treatment and colours are so much brighter now: “I had no idea what I was missing out on!”