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Stephen didn’t know he had cataracts until his wife, Linda, was diagnosed with them and prepared to undergo surgery.
The Greenwood carpenter, now age 65, had noticed subtle changes in his vision, but had no idea he was suffering from cataracts in both eyes. Driving at night was a challenge, as glares from other car lights would result in a blinding halo. His depth perception and focus were off – resulting in more than the usual number of thumb whacks with the hammer.
Still, it didn’t occur to him to have his own eyes checked for cataracts, since he’d been wearing glasses since the age of 12 and thus undergoing regular exams. He had his prescription changed several times in recent years, even tried lineless bifocals, but his vision never seemed quite right.
But it wasn’t until Linda was discussing her options with an eye surgeon at the Indiana Eye Clinic that Stephen described his symptoms to the doctor, who immediately suggested he have a proper examination. Sure enough, it showed cataracts that were gradually robbing him of his independence.
In the end, Stephen and Linda both ended up having cataract/advanced lens implant procedures around the same time about three years ago.
In his case, Stephen opted for a Crystalens implant. So not only were his cataracts fixed, he no longer has to wear any kind of corrective lenses for the first time in over 50 years.
“It was just life-changing. I was thrilled not to have to wear any glasses anymore – not even for reading,” he said. “My distance vision is unbelievable.”
Linda suffers from Grave’s Disease, which commonly affects the thyroid and eyesight. So she had already undergone 13 eye surgeries during her lifetime. But Stephen had never had so much as a tonsillectomy, and admits the prospect of a procedure on his eyes left him “a nervous wreck.”
Stephen remembers how quick and easy the procedure was at the clinic’s Ambulatory Surgery Center, and how the doctors and staff allayed his fears. “The doctor was very informative, and let me know there was nothing to worry about – it would all turn out better than I thought.”
He especially remembers standing up right after the first procedure, looking over the doctor’s shoulder and being able to read a sign on the wall at the end of a 50-foot hallway.
Stephen was so pleased with the results, he had the other eye done just a week later.
Now life is much easier for Stephen. He’s not hitting his thumb while working carpentry – well, at least not as much, anyway! He reads books and magazines without reading glasses. His grandchildren comment on seeing all of his face again.
It’s also helped with his hobbies. While playing golf, he sees down on the ball better, and can follow a shot down the fairway with ease. A confirmed shade tree mechanic, Stephen no longer has to fetch a magnifying glass to read a part number off a car.
In fact, Stephen eventually gathered up all his old glasses and donated them to the local Lion’s Club. Looking them over one last time, he couldn’t believe what thick lenses he used to wear.
“Absolutely 100 percent I would do it again. I have told so many people they should have the same thing done.”
Someone once called Carol a “tough old bird,” and she takes it as a compliment: the description is apt for the 70-year-old Greenwood resident.
She’s been all around and had many adventures, as well as heartbreaks and setbacks. While serving with the Marine Corp Women’s Reserves she was exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam, which she believed contributed to many of her later health problems, including a brain tumor that was successfully removed.
(Though it’s not well known, more than 2,700 women Marines served during the Vietnam War, both stateside and in-country.)
Carol had not one but two careers after her military service, running her own bookshop at a Florida marina, and later finishing college and working as a psychologist. But her poor health, including challenges to her eyesight, was a constant toll.
Carol reckons she’s undergone more than 40 surgeries in her lifetime, including her brain, intestines, esophagus, reproductive organs and spine. Carol has had operations on both shoulders, had her vertebrae fused, and her body is littered with pins and screws. About 10 years ago she finally retired on disability and moved from Florida to Indiana to be closer to family who could help her.
Her eyes have been a trouble to her, too. Several years ago Carol had surgery to repair a hole in her retina, which left her largely blind in her right eye. Like with her other problems, she adjusted and moved on. But then she started having similar problems with her left eye.
“I had several months where I could hardly see at all. I had to have people write checks for me. I couldn’t read newspapers or bills. I was really frightened,” Carol said.
The expert team at Indiana Eye Clinic treated her for a cataract, and referred her to the best specialist in the area for her macular hole. Both surgeries went off without a hitch, though the recovery period of having to keep her head down for several days was a struggle. But it more than paid off with the return of the ability to see better than ever.
“By golly, at my last checkup they had me read that chart, and I couldn’t believe it. I haven’t seen that well since I was a kid! I got 20/20 in that eye,” she said.
Now Carol is back to her regular routine – driving, reading and enjoying the independence that was so precious to her. And she credits her doctor and staff at the Indiana Eye Clinic for helping.
“I cannot praise him enough. His entire group is so caring and professional,” she said. “It’s one of the most efficient surgeries I’ve ever had.”
Some days Brandon wakes up, looks at his alarm clock, and can’t figure out what’s wrong. Then it hits him: he can see the numbers on the clock face perfectly.
A lifelong wearer of glasses and contact lenses, the 29-year-old Pittsboro, Ind., man had refractive surgery at the Indiana Eye Clinic in June 2014 to permanently correct his vision. Since then he’s been pleased with the ability to not worry about wearing corrective lenses and being able to just see clearly all the time.
“Everything is perfect. I can do whatever I want to do. Sometimes I forget I don’t still wear glasses. I’m really happy,” Brandon said.
Life wearing contacts had grown unbearable for him. His eyes grew more and more irritated, despite trying different types. Soon he could only put the contact lenses in for an hour or so, and would suffer tremendous redness and itching thereafter. Eventually he decided enough was enough.
Brandon elected to use Advanced Surface Ablation, otherwise known as LASEK, to correct his vision instead of the more common LASIK offered at many outpatient facilities. LASEK is a more advanced form of the original photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the mid-1990s.
Because PRK does not involve cutting a flap partway through the cornea like LASIK, the eye heals more completely and is better able to withstand strenuous activities such as sports. As an avid soccer player and weekend warrior, Brandon preferred increased durability over the shorter recovery time involved with LASIK.
“PRK is a good option for athletes, anyone in the military or anybody who does high-impact activities,” Brandon said.
The Indiana Eye Clinic offers Advanced Surface Ablation, aka PRK or LASEK, because the procedure is safer and has more predictable results. And many of the complications associated with LASIK – damaged corneal flaps, flap dislocation, excessive structural thinning – are avoided.
Brandon said the doctors and staff at the Indiana Eye Clinic gave him detailed expectations of what to expect post-surgery with PRK, such as having to keep his eyes moist in the days after the procedure, using numbing eye drops and experiencing a certain level of “grittiness” or discomfort in his eyes. All this soon passed.
“The recovery is all about the expectations,” Brandon said. The clinic staff had all his necessary prescriptions and day-by-day instructions laid out for him immediately after surgery. He was back to work a few days later.
Brandon was especially impressed because, as a resident physician himself, he understands the importance of clear communication between doctor and patient. Now he’s able to treat his own patients freely without having to fumble for his glasses or stress about irritation from contacts.
A retired schoolteacher, Betty cherished her active lifestyle. The 76-year-old Greenwood resident enjoyed reading, driving her granddaughters to dance and piano lessons, and socializing. Recently she had even taken up watercolor painting – dreaming up her own artistic visions and putting them down on canvas.
But about a year ago, challenges in her vision made many of the things she loved much more difficult. She realized she could no longer read street and traffic signs, relying on the shapes and colors to guide her. Reading books or magazines was tiring and irksome. Concentration became harder.
Even the hues of her paintings no longer seemed vibrant to Betty, as if the color of her entire visual world had been drained of its intensity.
“Everything was dingy and brown,” she said.
Her regular optometrist diagnosed her with cataracts in both eyes, who said that if nothing was done, within a year she would hardly be able to see at all. Betty was referred to the Indiana Eye Clinic for further help.
There she learned that the growth of cataracts can be so gradual, the patient doesn’t even notice it until the condition has reached an advanced stage. Like her, many people learn to compensate with how they perceive their environment. But eventually, something had to be done.
Betty says she was put entirely at ease by the doctors and staff at the Indiana Eye Clinic. She was impressed that she was treated like a person rather than a disease, and was always received promptly and courteously during office visits.
“I think we here on the Southside are very, very fortunate to have this grade-A, top-notch type of help that’s right here,” she said.
She had the cataract in her left eye removed in June 2014, and the right eye about a month later. The difference was instantaneous, and “amazing.”
“Goodness, when he did the procedure on my left eye and it was healing, I could look in the light and see how different everything was. Things looked great,” she said.
Now, Betty is back to the regular life she found so pleasing. Driving feels less dangerous, objects in the distance are clearer, reading doesn’t sap her concentration. And the colors on her paintings are just as vivid as the ones in the wide world around her.
Her easel and brushes, which had sat lonely and unused, are seeing fresh dabs of paint again.
Judith of Indianapolis likes to sit in bed and watch a little television right after she wakes up in the morning. She flips on her favorite news channel for the latest reports. A few years ago, though, she found herself unable to read the small scroll of updates along the bottom of the screen – even while wearing the glasses she’d needed for more than a quarter-century.
After a routine exam with the doctors and staff at the Indiana Eye Clinic, Judith, now 71, learned that she had cataracts in both eyes. It did not come as a particular surprise for her. “I knew that my mother had cataracts, so I expected it to happen at some time or another,” she said.
At first the problem was barely noticeable, but over time the cloudiness grew progressively worse. Driving a car, reading or doing the crossword puzzle became more and more difficult, even with stronger prescriptions for glasses.
Judith bought bigger and bigger TVs for her bedroom, but still couldn’t see it well.
“My vision was kind of like you were looking through wax paper,” Judith said.
After monitoring the decline with her eye doctor for a few years, he finally recommended that she have surgery to correct the problem.
“I was just tired of not being able to see well. He showed me the different kinds of options for lenses. I asked him if I could not have to wear glasses at all,” she said.
After consultations, they eventually settled on an intraocular lens implant. Not only would it solve her cataract problem, it would give her almost perfect vision so she would not need glasses or other corrective lenses to see clearly. After half a lifetime of fussing with glasses, Judith was ready for a change.
The procedures were performed in January 2012, one week apart for each eye. She remembers after the first surgery sitting in bed after removing the patch over her corrected eye, and turning on the TV.
“I said, ‘Eureka! I can read it!!’” she said.
Excited, she began going around her house to find things she previously couldn’t read – medicine bottles, food labels, and so on – just to see what they looked like without distortion.
Now, Judith can barely remember her old life of cataracts and corrective lenses. Occasionally, though, she will wake up and reach for her glasses out of habit.
“Then I remember, I don’t wear them anymore! I have nearly perfect vision. It’s been a life-changing event.”
A policy director for the Indiana House of Representatives, John spends a lot of his time staring at computer screens, reviewing proposed legislation and interacting with lawmakers. For many years he’d worn contact lenses to correct his nearsightedness, and over time came to resent the trouble and expense of doing so.
The upkeep of contacts just no longer fit with the on-the-go lifestyle of the 38-year-old Indianapolis resident. He was frustrated with his lenses growing cloudy or fuzzy, since John admits he sometimes wore them past the recommended time frame or failed to change them out when he should have. He started carrying a second pair of contact lenses and cleaning solution around with him as a backup.
He also didn’t care for having to buy glasses, which he didn’t like wearing. “Glasses are so expensive that I never really wore them,” John said. “I was always a prescription or two behind. I’d paid all this money for them, and they no longer worked correctly for my vision.”
Things finally came to a head when he tore a contact lens on a busy workday, and he didn’t have backup lenses or glasses with him. Unable to perform his job, he actually had to take time off from work to go get replacements.
That made up his mind to get laser vision correction, something he’d been thinking about for a while. After consulting with his ophthalmologist at the Indiana Eye Clinic, where he’d been a regular patient, John had the procedure performed in August 2013. The doctors and staff put his mind at ease, so there was no anxiety on his part.
The change to his lifestyle was immediate. He now enjoys nearly perfect vision in both eyes, and doesn’t have to worry about having contacts or glasses on him while working. Driving has also become much easier, he said, especially at night after a long day at the capitol.
“I can see everything,” he said. “It was actually life-changing. The fact that I don’t have to reach for a pair of glasses to see something at night – I just don’t have to worry about that stuff anymore.
“And it saves money in the long run, as I don’t have to replace contacts every six months.”
Josie of Carmel had been suffering from declining vision for some years. While it wasn’t terrible at first, it became more and more of a challenge as time went on. She was suffering from cataracts, and knew the day was coming when she would have to address it.
While driving, Josie couldn’t see street signs until she was right on top of them. Books and computer screens could be frustrating after just a few minutes. But she hesitated to seek out surgical solutions.
Like many people, she had trouble with the thought of turning over something as precious as her eyesight to another person’s care. Otherwise she’s as “healthy as a horse,” and didn’t want to do anything to risk her quality of life.
Fortunately, her husband was socially acquainted with one of the veteran eye surgeons at the Indiana Eye Clinic headquartered in Greenwood. She knew of the surgeon's excellent reputation, and her consultations soon put her mind at ease.
After examination, testing and careful analysis of her individual case, her Indiana Eye Clinic doctor recommended cataract surgery with the clinic’s Custom Refractive Care Plus Package be performed at the same time as her cataract surgery. This would allow her to have improved vision beyond addressing the increasingly severe problem caused by the cataracts.
Josie says the procedure went as smoothly as she’d hoped.
“It really was an experience without any problems. The doctor is very precise in what he does and very professional,” she said. “His follow-up has been equally great.”
Her daily life is incredibly different now. Her vision is no longer obscured by cataracts, and everything is much clearer and sharper.
Josie had worn eyeglasses since second grade in the 1940s, later seguing to contact lenses when those became available.
Now, she doesn’t have to wear any kind of vision correction lens at all.
“It’s like freedom. Everything’s brighter – I can see everything now,” she said.
As an electrical lineman who works with high-voltage technology, William places a very high value on his vision. Working in potentially dangerous situations, the 57-year-old Greenwood resident needs to see exactly what he’s doing at all times on the job.
But starting about a dozen years ago, he began to notice some difficulty. There was a haziness and spottiness to his vision. Though difficult to even detect at first, the problem grew progressively worse. A dead spot in his field of vision became apparent. Eventually, he had trouble even recognizing people’s faces.
William learned he had a cataract in the center of each eye.
“I could see part of the picture but not the complete picture,” he said. “Basically, I was legally blind.”
He found himself restricted from night driving. Even during the daytime, William had to have his wife, a co-worker or friend to help him get around. On the job, he couldn’t identify the serial numbers on equipment. Reading books or magazines became a frustrating ordeal. He couldn’t go to the movies or indulge his passion for golf.
“I could not see through range finders or binoculars. I could see my golf ball a little bit, but couldn’t see the club hit it,” he said.
After going to the Indiana Eye Clinic for help, William learned his condition was not something that could be addressed with glasses: he needed cataract surgery. After consulting with one of the highly experienced doctors, they also talked about correcting his vision through a Custom Refractive Care Package.
In addition to removing his cataracts, he received new refractive lenses – one for distance, another for reading. The doctors and clinic staff patiently explained how the lenses worked together so he could focus just like a natural eye.
Today, William is enjoying a quality of life he couldn’t have even imagined prior to surgery. “I’m so thankful Indiana Eye Clinic was able to correct my vision. It’s a miracle to me.”
He’s back enjoying films, books and other pursuits, and knowing he’ll be safe and efficient at work. And golf? He’s back playing, with no handicap.