Riding up in her horse and carriage to the junction with the busy road, Josephine Pilling couldn’t see the traffic, as heavy rain battered against her glasses. Mrs Pilling’s life was dominated by extreme short-sightedness, forced to rely on thick, heavy glasses to give her a chance to see.
Now, Mrs Pilling is indulging her passion for carriage driving and outdoor life on her small holding in Melbourne near York after undergoing Lens Replacement Surgery at Vision Surgery and Research Centre in East Yorkshire.
“Last year, I was in the carriage waiting to pull out onto the A1079 and I just couldn’t see because of the rain on my glasses,” she said. My passenger was really frightened. This year, it’s a different story. I can see where I’m going and it’s made a huge difference to my life.”
Mrs Pilling, 58, wore glasses from infant school, and recurring eye infections means contact lenses were unsuitable to correct her poor vision and astigmatism in one eye. Spending most of her life outdoors with her three mules and her donkey, and helping Riding for the Disabled, wearing glasses became a burden. “The worst thing for me was they steamed up wherever I went,” she said.
“When it was raining, I had to look down at the ground or wear a baseball cap just to keep the rain off my glasses. I was forever taking them on and off to wipe them but I just couldn’t see a thing without them. On one occasion, when I was out on a hunt, it was raining so I had to put my glasses in my pocket and all I could see was the grey blur of the horse in front of me. I was jumping over fences with no idea of where I was going!”
Deciding to tackle her poor eyesight once and for all, a neighbour recommended Milind Pande, the medical director of Vision Surgery and Research Centre in East Yorkshire with an international reputation for excellence in the field of ophthalmic surgery. Having operated on a patient with a prescription of minus 36, Mrs Pilling’s prescription of minus 9.25 was all in a day’s work for the renowned surgeon. Using complex algorithms, Mr Pande tailored replacement lenses to correct the astigmatism and ensure optimum vision for Mrs Pilling. First, he fitted a multi-focal lens in one eye and monitored Mrs Pilling’s response as her brain adjusted to her new vision.
Mr Pande said: “For 58 years, Mrs Pilling’s brain had worked out algorithms to process the pictures seen through short-sighted eyes. We changed those pictures overnight hence her brain had to re-learn the algorithm to process new pictures. She had to learn to see again so, as time goes by, it will just get better and better.” Having achieved outstanding results with the first operation, Mr Pande then operated on Mrs Pilling’s second eye to give her perfect vision.
He said: “The amazing thing for Mrs Pilling is, all her life she has had the vision of an extremely short-sighted person. Now, she can see very clearly. For people with extreme prescriptions, it is similar to when they get a new pair of glasses and they say it takes them a week to get used to them. That visual adaptation has been shown to work up to the age of 90 or 100.”
Now, Mrs Pilling is living life to the full, enjoying her outdoor life and her hobby of spinning, without the need for spectacles.
She said: “It’s absolutely amazing. I don’t need glasses for distance vision or for reading and it’s made such a difference to me. My new vision has impacted on everything, from being able to open my eyes in the morning and see my bedroom to being out with the ponies and talking to the farrier in the rain without having to take off my specs every two minutes to wipe them. I’m so glad I’ve done it and I would say to anyone considering Lens Replacement Surgery to go ahead without delay. The sooner you get it done, the longer you have to enjoy brilliant vision.”
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