15 September 2023

For Sutton Coldfield lady, Helen Cunningham, her surprise diagnosis of congenital cataract in her fifties has taken her on a treatment journey she did not expect. And with her daughter’s wedding fast approaching, the option to have excellent vision at all distances really appealed.

Helen joked: “To be honest, eye surgery was not part of my wedding prep – I was thinking more of manicures and facials! But at my last visit to my optician I was surprised to be told that my cataracts had progressed to such an extent that my surgery was now a medical necessity rather than an optional treatment. I could not even read the top line of text on the eye chart.”

The treatment at local specialist hospital, Optegra Eye Hospital Birmingham, has led to her best vision in years as she realised she could select private cataract surgery with personalised lenses which means she now has excellent vision at all distances: “It is like a miracle, unbelievable. I had not realized how poor my vision was,” she says.

Initially referred to Optegra for NHS cataract surgery, she was impressed at the quick referral. While she had known for years that she had cataracts, she was surprised to discover for the first time that she actually had congenital cataracts – which means she was born with them. However, it was only within the past four months she had noticed a significant change in her vision, with colours faded and everything in the distance appearing blurred.

At work, in a large office, she realised that without her glasses she could not even see her colleague’s facial features anymore from across the room.

However, at her Optegra consultation visit she spotted a leaflet on cataract surgery lens options and discovered that by opting for private cataract surgery she could choose a bespoke prescription lens, rather than a standard lens as provided on the NHS.

For Helen, this meant the potential for excellent vision at all distances and the added bonus of no need for spectacles or contact lenses. This was not a possibility with a standard lens on the NHS.

She explains: “I was told I may have still needed glasses for certain distances, but when I realised there was a private option for customised cataract surgery, this really gave me food for thought. I had been told you only have this procedure once, so I gave it a lot of thought and decided that I would go for the best option possible to maximise my visual freedom and outcome.

“The process was so easy and informative. Optegra provided a consultation with a specialist optometrist from the comfort of my home, which helped me understand my options and answered my questions. I decided to progress to a very thorough and informative assessment at Optegra Eye Hospital Birmingham and was delighted to be suitable for customised cataract surgery.

“I was literally stunned that there was this option, that lens implant technologies have advanced so much – I had no idea there were options for customising my cataract surgery. I am truly overwhelmed by the beautiful colours and details I can see in my garden and in the house, and my clarity of vision at all distances.

“It is like seeing in 3D, like in a computer game – which I could not appreciate before, everything looked ‘flat’. Now I can look at my garden and see layers of trees, flowers, which I just could not see before. I can’t thank Mr Anandan enough for his incredible skill, expertise and care.”

Optegra consultant ophthalmic surgeon, Mr Maghizh Anandan, who treated Helen, said: “Optegra is so pleased to be able to see NHS cataract patients and help them with their treatment, especially avoiding the long waiting lists.

“However, some patients, like Mrs Cunningham, research lens options and realise they can have private refractive cataract surgery. This means we can correct their refractive errors, whether short-sighted or long-sighted, or having astigmatism…all at the same time as removing their cataract, and replacing with a customised lens.

“Patients with standard cataract surgery need to still wear glasses for certain distances, and in many cases will need glasses full time, but with private surgery their vision is corrected with a bespoke premium lens for correction at all distances.”

Helen, who is a careers adviser at two local schools, cannot believe the beautiful colours and says that being free of glasses is now the cherry on top. Her job will be much easier, albeit a visually demanding job that requires going from hand-written reports to computer screen to talking to students. “It’s the best investment I have made in myself, it has been worth every penny!” she said.

She is also enjoying her hobbies more with her new vision as she loves walking, especially canal walks, and cannot wait to look out to sea clearly on her next coastal holiday. And colours are brighter than they have been in years.

She says: “I am changing all sort of things at home, like bedding, I don’t want anything in faded colours now! I want my home as colourful as possible now I can see the bright shades so well! And it has made shopping for my mother-of-the-bride outfit even more exciting!”

Optegra Eye Hospital Birmingham 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 31 eye hospitals and clinics across the UK, Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia.

Optegra brings together leading-edge research, medical expertise and state-of-the-art surgical equipment. It performs more than 120,000 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.

Tel: 0800 077 3272


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