When the onset of cataracts caused Shropshire-based university lecturer Dr Robert Wilkinson to feel unsafe when driving at night, he wasted no time in finding a solution to this potentially lifestyle-restricting problem.
The 53 year old lecturer of Ruminant Nutrition at Harper Adams University explains:“Last winter, as the evenings grew darker, driving at night became very difficult due to the awful glare from the lights of other cars on the road. I really didn’t feel safe at all.
“Prior to this I had started to notice a change in my vision. I’ve worn glasses for long distance since I was about 20 years old, but I now needed to continually take my glasses on and off when switching my focus between the screen and the students! I also saw a distinct difference between the quality of vision in my left and right eye.
“This permanent fiddling with glasses was obviously frustrating in itself, but it was the driving at night that was the real turning point. My job, family commitments and other interests in outdoor pursuits and musical theatre, dictate the need for driving at this time, so this was something I couldn’t, and wouldn’t, start avoiding.”
Aware that his symptoms could indicate cataracts Dr Wilkinson immediately had his eyes checked.
“I guessed that my problem had to be cataracts so I actively sought out a specialist to take a look. Having seen adverts for Optegra Birmingham Eye Hospital, I decided to make an appointment with them” he said.
Dr Wilkinson was seen by cataract specialist Mr Subramaniam at the Optegra Birmingham Eye Hospital, who confirmed that there was a mild cataract in the right eye.
Cataracts at such an early stage would not ordinarily be operated on, but this one was positioned right in the centre of the eye and was causing a lot of problems. Mr Subramaniam therefore proceeded with surgery, particularly because of the danger it was causing for night-time driving.
Dr Wilkinson comments: “I was keen to get the problem sorted and went straight ahead with the recommended procedure, which was a complete success. The team at Optegra Birmingham Eye Hospital were incredibly helpful and very professional. The surgery itself was totally painless. I really did not feel a thing and this is something that I find amazing.
“My cataract is now gone. My vision is so much better and driving at night no longer causes me any problem or anxiety. I still need glasses for long distance, which I knew I would, but my distance vision through my glasses has distinctly improved. It is much sharper and clearer and the colours are so much brighter. Before the procedure I was seeing everything through a mist or fog, even on a bright day. I knew things should be clearer and brighter because when I covered my affected eye, I could see things as they should be with my good eye. But through my eye with cataracts everything was misty.
“I am also benefitting from the added bonus that my new lens has improved my intermediate vision and I can see a computer screen, for example, more clearly.
“I’m so very pleased with the results and with Optegra Birmingham Eye Hospital. I am glad that I did something about the problem so quickly, before it had a chance to get worse and stop me driving at night, and doing the things in life that I really enjoy.”
Mr Subramaniam, from Optegra Birmingham Eye Hospital, said: “Mr Wilkinson came to see me with blurred vision in his right eye. He is a bit young to have cataracts and he had tests done to rule out other problems in the eye.
“The advantage of having his cataract treated with Optegra is that we could insert the most suitable lens for his specific needs. In this case, given the visual demands of his job and the power of his left eye, the surgery in his right eye aimed to achieve good intermediate vision for things like computer work. Mr Wilkinson is very happy with the outcome.”