“I thought I was going blind at a terrifying speed”

1 December 2022

Imagine opening your eyes each morning and worrying you will see less than the day before. As terrifying as that sounds, it was the reality for Laura Parker from Manchester.  At the age of just 41 she had a fast-growing cataract which meant she was almost completely blind in her left eye within a matter of months.

“My vision was deteriorating on a daily basis and it took a huge toll on my mental well-being,” said Laura. “Vision is so precious, and I could see that I was losing mine and also losing my independence.”

Although cataract surgery is the most common operation performed in the UK, it is rare to have such severe symptoms in your 40’s.

Laura, a company director, had never worn glasses and always experienced near perfect vision. Managing a roofing company, where she is responsible for sales, orders and dealing with suppliers, meant much of her time was spent in front of a screen and she relied on good vision.

Mr Shafiq Rehman, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Optegra Eye Hospital Manchester, operated on Laura and said: “It is very rare to see such a severe cataract in someone so young.  When a cataract is not treated it will continue to deteriorate and become so dense that it is called a ‘white’ cataract – it is so opaque that it effectively causes blindness.

“This has historically mainly been found in developing countries, but since the pandemic we are diagnosing this more and more in the UK, though typically with patients in their 70’s or 80’s who have perhaps delayed treatment longer than they should.

“What is unusual about Laura’s case is the speed at which the cataract was growing, causing a rapid loss of vision which can be very alarming for a patient.”

Laura’s symptoms first began in early 2021 when she noticed that her left eye was feeling more tired than the right, and visited her optician for a check-up. She says, “Although I couldn’t see as clearly with my left eye, the optician didn’t detect any underlying problems and instead prescribed glasses. However, I really struggled wearing them – I kept getting headaches and blurry vision.”

After a number of appointments, Laura became increasingly concerned. By the November she was resorting to closing her left eye and just using the right. Back at the optician, she pushed to be checked again.

“My left eye was so bad, I honestly thought I was going blind. It was very scary. I had a scan and the doctor saw a very dense cataract in my left eye. I was shocked! My eye had been checked so many times over the previous months but no-one had seen a cataract – it had literally come from nowhere” said Laura.

“Although I still had limited vision in my left eye, and my right eye was unaffected, I was no longer able to drive and was relying on my partner to take our children to school and help with daily chores. At the end of each day, my right eye would be so painful, literally aching because it was working so hard.”

Laura chose to have her surgery privately at Optegra Eye Hospital Manchester in Didsbury because of the long waiting lists for cataract surgery due to Covid. “I didn’t want to wait because of the rapid deterioration in my vision. It was like looking through fog. Every day I could see less and less.”

Surgeon Mr Rehman continued: “We are seeing an increasing number of people presenting with these types of cataracts and the cause is still unclear. Sometimes it can be due to a head trauma but this was not the case with Laura. Fortunately, she was treated quickly and her vision has been restored.”

Laura is delighted to once again be able to see clearly with both eyes. “It feels amazing not to be dependent on people for favours and feel that I have my life back. This was a massive wake up call for me – we take our vision for granted and yet it can change in an instant. Our eyes need care and attention, we should appreciate them every day.”

Optegra Eye Hospital Manchester is part of Optegra Eye Health Care and is a specialist provider of ophthalmic services. Established in 2007, it has completed over one million eye procedures from its 34 eye hospitals and clinics across the UK, Czech Republic and Poland.

Optegra brings together leading-edge research, medical expertise and state-of-the-art surgical equipment.  It performs more than 100,000 treatments annually, both private and publicly funded. Its top ophthalmic surgeons are renowned for their areas of expertise, offering excellent clinical outcomes and great patient service.


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