In January, Diana Williams received disturbing news from her eye doctor. Although she was only 53, there was nothing more he could do to help her eyesight, and unless she had cataract surgery, she’d have to stop driving.
Williams had long ago gotten used to seeing the world differently from most of us. She’d received her first pair of glasses at age 6 and probably needed them long before that. “My parents just thought I was a clumsy child,” she says. “I wasn’t even allowed to carry things up or down the stairs because I’d always trip and drop them.”
By high school she was wearing those Coke-bottle glasses, and by her early 40s she was classified as “legally blind,” meaning that she could see at 20 feet away what a normal-sighted person could see at 200 feet. For her, it was an easy decision, and she had the surgery first in her worse eye, the right, and then in the left eye.
“The result was nothing short of miraculous,” Williams says. “I discovered texture for the first time. I never knew that leaves had veins, or that the tile floor in my office building wasn’t smooth. It’s a very big change in your life when you can just open your eyes and see.”
Her vision is now 20/20 in her right eye and 20/40 in her left, and for the first time in her life, she wears no corrective lenses at all.
Harry Lebowitz, M.D., of Delaware Ophthalmology Consultants, who performed the surgery, used ultrasound to break up and remove the diseased lenses from Williams’ eyes. He then replaced the lenses with multifocal lenses that allow the patient to see both close up and far away.
The past two decades have seen great advances in eye care. And the improvements just keep coming, in LASIK correction, in cataract surgery and even in the treatment of wet macular degeneration, a condition that until recent years lead to blindness in a short period.