Amazing Grace*

I was in an outdoor cafe recently when I met a bloke who told me how he had suddenly woken up blind! It was terrifying, as you can imagine. He had had a stroke and a blood clot had formed in the occipital cortex of his brain, slowly starving his vision centres of blood and oxygen.

I have nothing to compare with that but in a recent eye test I was told that I had cataracts in both eyes with one being far worse than the other and that henceforth, driving would be at my own risk. Ah hah, I thought, that was why I was seeing double when I looked at the moon.

Eye surgery, as pioneered by the Australian Dr. Fred Hollows is a fairly simple procedure where, after cataract extraction, an inter-ocular lens (IOL) is implanted, usually resulting in a massive improvement in sight for more than 99% of patients.

I had my right eye done several months ago and the effect was immediate. Within a day or two, I was up and running, as it were, with no side effects. The second operation on my worst eye was a different matter. Itchy, red, uncomfortable and incredibly blurred vision, so much so that, for more than three weeks, I was unable to drive and any bright light was intolerable.IMG_0320

This was all normal, the surgeon informed me, after a major operation and he cautioned me against “using the eye too much”! Twenty-two days later, my vision is still quite blurry in the recently operated upon eye and I can expect another three weeks or so before the eye fully heals. Amazing!

Even more amazing is the surgery. The inter-ocular lens is manufactured in both Nepal and Eritrea for approximately $8 in factories set up by the Fred Hollows Foundation and the cataract extraction and IOL implant can be performed for $25. Not so in Australia, as I discovered, where the mark-up is, roughly, $2500 per eye. The fee is made up in three parts – the surgeon’s fee, the anaesthetist’s fee and finally the rental of the surgical theatre.  Thank God for public health, which is what I used for both eyes and thank God for the Fred Hollows Foundation for all the afflicted punters in those less developed countries where the Foundation works.

I suppose the above is an excuse for the total neglect of my blog after I uploaded the 100th post quite some time ago. Anyway, YIPPEE, I can see again and it is only going to get better. Thank you to my doctor and all the people who have put up with my semi-incapacity. All I have to do now is get new ears and possibly a bigger brain!

*  I once was lost but now I’m found.
Was blind but now I see.