Traffic nightmare drives Fiona to pioneering operation

Fiona HutchingsIt took a terrifying night drive for Fiona Hutchings to ultimately discover a state-of-the-art procedure to restore her rapidly deteriorating vision. Unaware as to how bad her eyesight had actually become, petrified Fiona found she could barely see past the glare being created by the headlights of the oncoming traffic during her drive back to her home in Holbury near Southampton, Hampshire.

She was so frightened she felt if she had pulled over to allow the line of traffic built up behind her to pass, she would never have had the courage to continue driving back to the home she shares with her beloved husband Derrick.

“It really affected my confidence,” explains the normally happy-go-lucky 50-year-old. “I hadn’t driven on my own for a good few months and it was such a shock that my vision had become so bad. I was so scared I didn’t drive again after that — not even in the day!”

However, she is now safely back behind the wheel after being one of the first people in Hampshire to have her impaired vision corrected by state-of-the art implantable lenses.

“I can now see the definition on things and that has given me my confidence back”

Fiona was suffering from the onset of cataracts — the leading cause of treatable blindness worldwide — and presbyopia, the natural ageing process that makes people dependent on reading spectacles as they reach their forties.

“I was shocked when I was told I had cataracts by the optician as I had always thought they were something you got when you’re older,” says Fiona, who works in the finance department of a local scaffolding company.

“Up until a few years ago I had perfect vision so it was quite a surprise to discover I had cataracts. I was obviously just putting up with my eyesight and making adjustments.”

Fiona’s life has been brought back into bright, crisp and clear focus thanks to the expertise of highly respected consultant ophthalmologist Richard Newsom and a ground-breaking implantable lens known as the ReSTOR.

Mr Newsom, who has private practices at both the Wessex Nuffield Hospital, Chandlers Ford and BUPA Hospital Southampton, is one of a select group of the UK’s leading ophthalmic surgeons who are offering the ReSTOR, which utilises ground-breaking patented technology to provide patients excellent distance and near vision.

Pioneered and manufactured by world-leading eye care company Alcon, the ReSTOR has proved so successful in allowing cataract patients to see clearly at all distances that it has just received European CE approval to treat other, more simple, vision disorders.

“The possibilities for the ReSTOR are immense because in addition to offering high-quality near and distance vision to people with cataracts, it now offers the millions of people suffering from just presbyopia a genuine alternative to spectacles,” adds Mr Newsom.

“Presbyopia is caused by an age-related loss in the elasticity of the natural crystalline lens,” he explains. “A young crystalline lens has elastic properties making it very malleable and easily moulded to enable clear near vision. As we get older the consistency of the lens changes. It becomes harder and thicker, making it increasingly difficult to adjust the shape of the lens, which affects its focusing ability and results in problems with near vision.

“In the past we were unable to correct presbyopia with more traditional techniques such as laser eye surgery so the benefits of the ReSTOR are likely to be far reaching — particularly among those people who have been fortunate to have perfect vision until their forties and don’t want to become dependent on spectacles in later life.”

Fiona says: “I was shocked that I needed treatment as I had always considered I was ageing well! But it is amazing. As soon as I had it done I realised how bad my vision had become. It was like I was looking through net curtains. I can now see the definition on things and that has given me my confidence back.”

Her eyes were treated in two separate day-case operations that were performed nearly two weeks apart at BUPA Hospital Southampton. “It is just fascinating,” says Fiona. “I purposely didn’t ask too much about the procedure in advance, but it was great. It seemed to be over very quickly.”

And the results have made a huge difference to her life. Being able to read without the aid of glasses has rekindled Fiona’s passion for literature. “I had been put off reading because it had become a hassle, but since the treatment I’ve become quite a little bookworm. The only downside of the operation is that I can now see all the dirt in my house! It’s been a bit of an eye-opener as before I obviously couldn’t see all of the dust and cob webs.”

Fiona Hutchings (538 downloads)