Planning a holiday to the Great Barrier Reef, Diane Rice knew she had to take action to make the most of the trip of a lifetime.

Plagued by poor eyesight for most of her life, Diane, 52, loved swimming and snorkeling but the contact lenses she’d worn for years were not an option underwater.

Diane sought out the expertise of internationally renowned eye surgeon Milind Pande, medical director of Vision Surgery and Research Centre in East Yorkshire and past president of the United Kingdom and Ireland Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons.

Now, after undergoing lens exchange surgery, Diane has experienced the joy of exploring the underwater ecosystem stretching more than 2,000 km off the coast of Australia.

“I’d thought about having eye surgery for years but booking the trip to the Great Barrier Reef was the main reasons for me finally getting it done,” she said.

“My niece had gone to Mr Pande and she told me I’d never regret it. I thought I wasn’t going to mess about with my eyes; I was going to the best.

“I went to the Great Barrier Reef and it was a really fantastic experience.”

Diane, a director of Hugh Rice Jeweller’s with shops in Hull, Beverley and Harrogate, was experiencing growing frustration with poor vision and the constant juggling between contact lenses, glasses, reading glasses and prescription sunglasses.

“If I was driving, I’d to remember which glasses to take and nine times out of ten, I’d leave my sunglasses in my husband Michael’s car,” she said.

“We went out for a meal once and Michael forgot his reading glasses. I ended up taking out one of my contact lenses so I could read the menu for us both, spending the evening being able to see out of one eye but not the other.

“I’d thought about it for years and my husband said just have it done.”

Diane went to Vision Surgery and Research Centre where bespoke lenses gave her the best possible vision without spectacles, ensuring at the same time she will never have a need for cataract removal surgery.

Mr Pande, respected among his peers for setting the gold standard in ophthalmic surgery, said: “The new lenses are designed to last 40 to 50 years.

“If you have lens exchange surgery, you will never need a cataract operation.
“Patients are usually in their 50s and 60s and they know that, by the time they are 65 or 70, they are going to need a cataract operation. But, by that stage, their general health may not be as good as it is now.

“Rather than wait to enjoy the benefits of spectacle-free vision in their 70s, they would rather have it done now in their 50s and 60s when the rest of their health is good and they can enjoy it more.”

Diane underwent her first operation at the Spire Hospital in Anlaby in August 2017 followed by surgery on her second eye in October.

“Honestly, it was like a miracle,” she said. “It’s like having contact lenses in all the time but without any of the hassle.

“Driving now, I don’t even have to think about it. I just jump in and go. I love waking up and being able to see without faffing about with lenses or glasses
“And I love to cook, so now, when I use chillies, I don’t have to wear gloves because I won’t be needing to take my contact lenses out afterwards.

“It’s been absolutely fantastic and I’d recommend it to anyone. I’m just so glad I’ve done it.”

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