Theatre-lover Patrick McSharry’s life was turned upside down when blurred vision affected his main passions in life – seeing plays and opera, reading and travelling.
But a simple cataract operation has given him his good sight back and his experience features in a DVD made by the Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust to reassure other cataract patients about the surgery.
Patrick, 61, from Hendon started to suffer from blurred vision since 2005. When it started to affect his driving and quality of life, he saw an optician who discovered he had cataracts in his left eye and the beginnings of a cataract in his right eye.
Cataracts are caused by changes in the lens protein of the eye, which makes them cloudy. Their exact cause is not known although ageing seems to be a predominant factor while other risk factors include diabetes, smoking, drinking, not eating a balanced diet, exposure to ultraviolet light or dehydration.
A cataract operation is very straightforward and one of the most commonly performed procedures in the UK, but many patients are anxious about having an operation on their eyes. The Royal Free DVD aims to reassure patients by showing Patrick’s journey through the whole process of having and recovering from a cataract operation.
The main things in Patrick’s life that were affected were his reading, computer work, travelling and not being able to go to the theatre - especially not being able to see the expressions on actor’s faces in performances he saw at the Royal Opera House.
Mags Balfour, lead nurse specialist in the Royal Free’s ophthalmology department said: “Patients come in having heard all sorts of horror stories about cataract surgery. Some people think the eye is taken out and others have been told the eye is laid on the cheek in order to do the surgery.
She added: “Leaflets do help patients to understand but being able to see the process is a lot more reassuring for our patients, which is why we have made this DVD.”
Patrick said: “I always thought it was a thin film that they took out and had no idea that they replace the entire lens. It’s a very sensitive part of the body so understandably it can be a frightening experience.
“I felt elated the day after the operation. I walked up to the window. There were a number of wildcats at the end of the garden and I could see them all very clearly.
“I went to the bookshop and even though I had the bandage on I still went inside because I was so excited about being able to read again.”
Patrick can now enjoy the pastimes he once loved such as reading, gardening, and travelling. He has travelled all over the world, including the Galapagos Islands, China, Canada and Albania and can now plan more exciting trips.
He said: “Eyes are everything. Without them you become detached from the world. At one point I felt I wasn’t even part of the world. It is nice to be able to see clearly down the end of the road and see people just across the road – a small thing that we all normally take for granted.
He added: “I came to the Royal Free Hospital not knowing anything about cataracts and was obviously anxious but Royal Free staff showed me tremendous help the whole time I was here.”
Patients, staff and members of the public are welcome to attend the cinema-style launch in the Peter Samuel Hall on Wednesday 3 March, from 12.45pm at the Royal Free Hospital. Light refreshments are available from Costa Coffee at 12.30pm and 1.15pm. Contact: Julia Rhodes to confirm attendance: 020 7794 0500 x33456 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Official flyer for the event>>
See the cataract information video here>>
Notes to editors
1) For further information contact: Aysha Shah, communications assistant, Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust, 020 7317 7590, email@example.com
2) Picture: Patrick McSharry at the Royal Opera House.
3) The Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust’s services have been rated “excellent” for the third year running by the Care Quality Commission. We are renowned for our specialist services including liver, kidney and bone marrow transplantation, clinical neurosciences, renal, AIDS/HIV, infectious diseases, plastic surgery, immunology, vascular surgery, ENT surgery and audiological medicine, amyloidosis and scleroderma. We run a major accident and emergency service, all branches of surgery and medicine, a renal service serving the whole of north London, paediatrics, maternity services, care of elderly people, an adolescent psychiatric service and one of two high security infectious diseases units in the country. We are a leading haematology centre and a major neuroscience base with a network extending throughout north London and into the Home Counties. We have associated internationally recognised research and training programmes. For more information visit www.royalfree.nhs.uk. We are a member of the academic health science partnership UCL Partners.