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Thread: Blind no more: 'It’s like I’m a child all over again'

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    Official Thread Jacker Senior Contributor gunnut's Avatar
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    Blind no more: 'It’s like I’m a child all over again'

    Blind no more: 'It’s like I’m a child all over again'

    By Aaron Derfel, THE GAZETTE July 26, 2013


    MONTREAL - When Pierre-Paul Thomas was a boy, he could not play hockey with his brothers and it broke his heart.

    For Thomas had been born blind. He endured the triple misfortune of suffering from congenital nystagmus — a condition in which the eyes move from side to side involuntarily — along with damaged optic nerves and cataracts bulging behind his pupils.

    It was the 1940s — long before medicare became available — and Thomas grew up in a family of nine brothers and sisters in the town of Saint-Rémi-d’Amherst, more than 100 kilometres north of Montreal.

    His brothers and sisters were forbidden from calling him blind for fear of their mother whacking their behinds. So Thomas learned to “see” with his fingers. When he grew older, he repaired bikes, and for his first full-time job, he kneaded dough in a bakery.

    Thomas could make out the rough, unfocused outlines of a person in front of him. His world was always grey, full of shadows, and he walked with a white cane that he slid from side to side in front of him.

    But two years ago, at the age of 66, Thomas fell down the stairs in a St-Henri apartment building and fractured the bones of his thin face, including those around his eye sockets. He was rushed to the Montreal General Hospital with severe swelling around his eyes.

    A team of doctors operated on him and repaired those bones. One day, months later, he was examined by a plastic surgeon at the Montreal General, Lucie Lessard, renowned for her skills in micro-suturing.

    During the consultation about repairing his scalp, Lessard asked matter-of-factly:

    “Oh, while we’re at it, do you want us to fix your eyes, too?”

    Thomas was dumbfounded. Fix my eyes?

    And so during two dates in February, Thomas underwent surgery at the Montreal General to remove the cataracts from his eyes. The operations, to put it mildly, were a success, for Thomas could now truly see for the first time in his life.

    His shadowy grey world receded to reveal colours he had never before seen: Red, yellow and even dark green, which previously was only a dull black. Snowbanks, which he had perceived as a light shade of grey, were now luminous white.

    He took a taxi for the disabled to visit his sister Giselle in Ahuntsic. During the ride, he gazed at the wonder of snowflakes falling, water trickling down the windows of the cab.

    He stood outside his sister’s front door and rang the bell. Giselle answered right away.

    “Pierrot, you still can’t see, can you?” she asked. Her neighbour, Madame Verreault, stood beside her.

    “On the contrary,” he replied, smiling. “I see two beautiful women.”

    Tears rolled down the women’s cheeks. Tears rolled down Thomas’s cheeks, too, but his sister reminded him to stop crying right that instant, because the doctors had warned that he had to keep water out of his eyes in the days after the operation.

    When spring arrived, Thomas saw the tulips bloom. And he discovered something that no one had ever pointed out to him before: tree buds, simple tree buds.

    “It’s like I’m a child all over again,” he said in his St-Henri apartment on a sunny Thursday afternoon.


    He was sitting at the kitchen table, the same one where he struggled to do the crossword puzzles by taking out a loupe, placing it on the page, and straining through it with his right eye. He grabbed the book of crossword puzzles and held it up.

    “It’s red,” he said, taking delight in describing the cover. “The title is in white. The price sticker is orange.”

    But his new-found vision scares him sometimes. When he stepped out onto his sixth-floor balcony for the first time and looked down, he was seized with vertigo. He still shuffles up and down his hallway apartment brushing his hands against the walls for guidance.

    “It’s very complicated for him,” his sister said. “He has sensorial memory because of the use of his fingertips, but his visual memory is only now developing.”

    Depth perception is a challenge. And so is paying for things at the corner store. He recently handed a cashier a $10 bill when he should have given him a $5.

    “Look at the numbers, Pierrot,” Giselle, who was in the dépanneur, advised. “You can see the numbers on the bills now.”

    Dr. Dev Cheema, director of the ophthalmology clinic at the Montreal General, noted that cataracts are still the main cause of blindness globally, but in North America, it’s macular degeneration. Even though most people develop cataracts with old age, Cheema said that children, even babies, can develop them as well.

    Thomas might have been able to see at a young age, even with his damaged optic nerves and the nystagmus, but it was the cataracts that tipped the balance and made him legally blind, Cheema explained.

    “All we had to do was remove the cataracts and he was able to see,” he said. “It feels great to do something like this. There’s always a positive story to tell when it comes to ophthalmology.”

    Thomas will never be able to see perfectly, and doctors won’t be able to treat his nystagmus or repair his damaged optic nerves.

    “But I’m happy,” he said. “A happy man. Say thank you for me to the Montreal General. They’ve given me my life back.”
    Blind no more: 'It

    Best story of the month! I am so happy for him. I am also thankful for my sight.
    "Only Nixon can go to China." -- Old Vulcan proverb.

  2. #2
    Senior Contributor bonehead's Avatar
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    That is good news. My vision was always horrible before LASIK but I only have a glimpse of what this man is experiencing now.
    Removing a single turd from the cesspool doesn't make any difference.

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    Military Enthusiast Senior Contributor
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    My third oldest brother is a retina specialist, a highly specialized field. He performs a lot of retina detachment repair surgeries a lot. I just got LASIK four months ago. Works like a charm although i am more susceptible to glare and wear sunglasses a lot and always when i go out in a sunny day.

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    My eyes went horribly near-sighted at a very young age. Coke-bottle glasses were the order of the day.
    Without corrective lenses, I can't see anything in focus more than half a foot from my eyes.

    I've often wondered about either LASIK or the insertable lenses. Sure would be nice not to need glasses or contacts just to survive every waking moment.
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    Senior Contributor bonehead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TopHatter View Post
    My eyes went horribly near-sighted at a very young age. Coke-bottle glasses were the order of the day.
    Without corrective lenses, I can't see anything in focus more than half a foot from my eyes.

    I've often wondered about either LASIK or the insertable lenses. Sure would be nice not to need glasses or contacts just to survive every waking moment.
    You have no idea how good it felt to get rid of the ball and chain, ie contacts/glasses. We had the same history. For me it was coke bottle glasses @ 4th grade. Glasses never could keep up with my lifestyle. Don't wait too long as if you get too old some of the procedures are less effective. For instance you can see farsighted but will need reading glasses, etc.
    Removing a single turd from the cesspool doesn't make any difference.

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    Senior Contributor bonehead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blademaster View Post
    My third oldest brother is a retina specialist, a highly specialized field. He performs a lot of retina detachment repair surgeries a lot. I just got LASIK four months ago. Works like a charm although i am more susceptible to glare and wear sunglasses a lot and always when i go out in a sunny day.
    You should improve as time goes by and you finish healing. Keep them hydrated in the mean time.
    Removing a single turd from the cesspool doesn't make any difference.

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    Defense ProfessionalSenior Contributor tbm3fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bonehead View Post
    You have no idea how good it felt to get rid of the ball and chain, ie contacts/glasses. We had the same history. For me it was coke bottle glasses @ 4th grade. Glasses never could keep up with my lifestyle. Don't wait too long as if you get too old some of the procedures are less effective. For instance you can see farsighted but will need reading glasses, etc.
    I would surmise that TopHatter is already past 45 at which point prebyopia becomes obvious. If so there is still benefit to do LASIK just to eliminate his distance Rx. In the early days of PRK/LASIK the primary group of people getting it where mainly over 45 due to the issue on money for it. Naturally they all understood they needed a reading Rx except those who didn't pay attention to what the doctor said.

    Also if you want to minimize flare/glare then opt for LASIK with wavefront to help eliminate higher order aberrations which standard LASIK can't.

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    Senior Contributor bonehead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tbm3fan View Post
    I would surmise that TopHatter is already past 45 at which point prebyopia becomes obvious. If so there is still benefit to do LASIK just to eliminate his distance Rx. In the early days of PRK/LASIK the primary group of people getting it where mainly over 45 due to the issue on money for it. Naturally they all understood they needed a reading Rx except those who didn't pay attention to what the doctor said.

    Also if you want to minimize flare/glare then opt for LASIK with wavefront to help eliminate higher order aberrations which standard LASIK can't.
    The other pre qualifier is that your vision must be stable or you are just wasting your time...and money. I had the wavefront and intralase. Wouldn't have done it any other way. If your astigmatism was as bad as mine you can count on a second albeit a much smaller correction later.
    Last edited by bonehead; 28 Jul 13, at 16:16.
    Removing a single turd from the cesspool doesn't make any difference.

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    Defense ProfessionalSenior Contributor tbm3fan's Avatar
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    I'm way ahead of you considering what I do...

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    Armchair Worrier Senior Contributor bolo121's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TopHatter View Post
    My eyes went horribly near-sighted at a very young age. Coke-bottle glasses were the order of the day.
    Without corrective lenses, I can't see anything in focus more than half a foot from my eyes.

    I've often wondered about either LASIK or the insertable lenses. Sure would be nice not to need glasses or contacts just to survive every waking moment.
    I also have very high near sight but i decided against lasik.
    Too much ablation would be needed and given that south asian eyes have lower corneal thickness, I decided it wasn't worth the risk.
    The doc i talked to told me i would still have around -.05 to -0.9 after the surgery.
    In a few years when prebyopia hits glasses would be needed anyway.
    Last edited by bolo121; 29 Jul 13, at 05:06.
    For Gallifrey! For Victory! For the end of time itself!!

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    Defense ProfessionalSenior Contributor tbm3fan's Avatar
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    Did you have pachymetry done? If not then you don't know for sure what you have. The average corneal thickness is 540 microns and can range from 400-700 microns in a population. Once you know your corneal thickness, and assuming you aren't over -9.00 to 10.00 in any meridian for automatic elimination, then you can assess your suitability.

    Even if you are going to need reading glasses anyway there are still pros to the surgery. When one is 48 would they rather be -8.00 or -1.00? Frankly a -1.00 is far more versatile in general use. You have 20/40-20/50 acuity in the distance which isn't bad. You have great intermediate vision so you can read WAB all day long in comfort. You can read your cell phone for many things. Then when you need to read small items you can always throw on a pair of +1.00 readers and you are home free. Certainly better than taking one's glasses off, at -8.00, and having a near point at 12.5 cm.

    Case example of a high correction. OD -7.75 max in one meridian. OS -8.75 max in one meridian. Corneal thickness at 514 microns. Age 22 years old.

    Surgical recommendation by top corneal specialist.

    OD: LASIK with intralase. Here intralase has value as the flap will be thinner saving some room.
    OS: PRK, which is no flap, then bandage SCL for 4 days.

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    Official Thread Jacker Senior Contributor gunnut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blademaster View Post
    My third oldest brother is a retina specialist, a highly specialized field. He performs a lot of retina detachment repair surgeries a lot. I just got LASIK four months ago. Works like a charm although i am more susceptible to glare and wear sunglasses a lot and always when i go out in a sunny day.
    I got LASIK about 19 months ago. Best thing ever! I could finally ditch those glasses when I play hockey. They never fit well under a helmet and cage.

    The bad things are 1. I need to wear reading glasses if I need to do real fine detailed work or read tiny writings, 2. I need to wear sunglasses during day time. Part of it is light annoys me. The other reason is probably psychological. I am paranoid about shit flying into my eyes. I used to have glasses to protect me. Now I don't wear glasses any more, I wear sunglasses to make it up.
    "Only Nixon can go to China." -- Old Vulcan proverb.

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    I'm glad they are getting better with correcting eyes. I've had terrible vision since I was 8 or 9 and man did it come on fast. I've thought about Lasik but I've heard a lot of horror stories about it. I'm not sure if I was to take the risk and lose it all when my vision isn't getting any worse at the moment.

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    Official Thread Jacker Senior Contributor gunnut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ahnuy View Post
    I'm glad they are getting better with correcting eyes. I've had terrible vision since I was 8 or 9 and man did it come on fast. I've thought about Lasik but I've heard a lot of horror stories about it. I'm not sure if I was to take the risk and lose it all when my vision isn't getting any worse at the moment.
    I waited for LASIK to really get well developed before I decided to do it. My friend's brother and his wife both had problems with theirs. That contributed to my hesitation. What pushed me over the edge was actually Obamacare. It reduced flexible spending cap from $5000 a year to $2500 a year. I figure I might as well get a good tax write-off while it's there.

    I found a doctor, recommended by 3 different people I know, whom did not know each other. He also did a lot of LASIK for the Anaheim Angels and Anaheim Ducks. If he's good enough for pro athletes, where millions of dollars are at stake, he should be good enough for me.
    "Only Nixon can go to China." -- Old Vulcan proverb.

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    Armchair Worrier Senior Contributor bolo121's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tbm3fan View Post
    Did you have pachymetry done? If not then you don't know for sure what you have. The average corneal thickness is 540 microns and can range from 400-700 microns in a population. Once you know your corneal thickness, and assuming you aren't over -9.00 to 10.00 in any meridian for automatic elimination, then you can assess your suitability.

    Even if you are going to need reading glasses anyway there are still pros to the surgery. When one is 48 would they rather be -8.00 or -1.00? Frankly a -1.00 is far more versatile in general use. You have 20/40-20/50 acuity in the distance which isn't bad. You have great intermediate vision so you can read WAB all day long in comfort. You can read your cell phone for many things. Then when you need to read small items you can always throw on a pair of +1.00 readers and you are home free. Certainly better than taking one's glasses off, at -8.00, and having a near point at 12.5 cm.

    Case example of a high correction. OD -7.75 max in one meridian. OS -8.75 max in one meridian. Corneal thickness at 514 microns. Age 22 years old.

    Surgical recommendation by top corneal specialist.

    OD: LASIK with intralase. Here intralase has value as the flap will be thinner saving some room.
    OS: PRK, which is no flap, then bandage SCL for 4 days.
    Nope i did not have it done.
    Being in India anything eye related is not insurance covered (unless you cough up super hefty premiums) and so I would be out of pocket for tests.
    Also i am -10R and -11L nowadays so I have probably climbed out of range of LASIK.
    Blade and GNs comments on glare and sunglasses especially put me off. India after all is famous for heat/pollution/dust.
    For Gallifrey! For Victory! For the end of time itself!!

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