Cataract, AMD and Livelihood

Leo Sheck
minute read

I'd like to tell you a story about Katherine.

She is a 93-year-old European lady who lives in Mount Eden, and she loves going to the shops, tending her garden and being as active as possible.

But she couldn’t see well.

She came to my clinic, and I asked her, and she said, “My vision is okay”. Her family told me that she doesn't do very much anymore. She sits at home. She rarely goes out. She is somewhat subdued. Which is sad.

I told her that “at 93, you’d expect to have some macular degeneration." It’s worse in one eye, but the better eye is treatable. She also has cataracts in both eyes."

So we got her started on injections. But she was still not seeing well. I was hoping that she would agree to have cataract surgery on her better-seeing eye.

Because it would transform her vision and livelihood.

However, she wasn't so sure. She said, “I’m over 90, Leo, and I’m worried about hospitals and surgery and whether I will even come home. So why bother taking out the cataracts? After all, if there was a complication, then I might even lose everything I have in terms of my vision”.

I empathize with her. So I kept treating her macular degeneration, but the cataracts gradually got worse.

One day, months after her first session, we had another discussion about cataract surgery.

By then, we had known each other for quite a long time, and she trusted me. She was still ambivalent. But she agreed.

So I put her on a waiting list in the public hospital.

After a few months, her name came up for the surgery.

She was nervous, but I told her she’d be fine.

Catherine was expecting a difficult surgery because she was old. But instead, the surgery was smooth with no pain. The surgery was done even before she even realized she had a little pad over the eye and was sent home.

The next day was magical. “I can see the flowers in the garden. I can see the wrinkles in my eyes. I can even see all the spider webs in the corner of my living room”.

Nothing short of transformational.

On her next visit to our clinic, I've never seen her talk so much. She was so happy to see the world again. She’s doing things, walking around, going to the shops, living and loving life like any normal human being who can see. She even sent me a photo of her sitting on a digger, working on a grand project.

Thank you, Katherine and your family, for giving me your permission to share your journey.