Have you ever experienced reading a newspaper one day without any problem and the next day you can no longer read that same paper - even with the help of a magnifying glass? What did your ophthalmologist say about the problem? Did eye correction work for you?
When I first experienced blurred vision, I thought I needed to upgrade my eyeglasses. But when I went to my optometrist, he recommended 250 grade for my myopic left eye and 400 for my hyperopic right eye.
After a year, even with my eyeglasses on, my vision deteriorated again. So I went to my optometrist once more and requested to increase the grade of my eyeglasses to 250/500. Unfortunately he couldn't do that because my eyes were beyond correction. He told me that I had cataracts on both eyes and no correction was possible.
I was advised to have an operation but frankly speaking, I was scared. Years ago, I had a urinary bladder operation to remove a 2.54 inch diameter stone. Because of this I tolerated the blurry vision but after a few months, my vision got worse, so I sought a second opinion. The second ophthalmologist recommended cataract surgery.
In one private hospital in Thailand, the operation to remove the cataracts would cost 39,000 baht excluding pre and post surgery procedures. I would have agreed to it if I had still had my medical insurance while working under the Chulalongkorn-Unisearch project, but I was no longer qualified because I was over 60 years of age.
Since I had medical insurance in the Philippines, I decided to go home and arrange to have surgery there. It was a painless procedure. There was ecg, chest xray, and lab tests for clearance. After that, I was scheduled for the operation.
At first I had my fears but thanks to the doctor's clear explanation of the procedure, my fears disappeared. In fact, to my surprise, the operation lasted only 30 non-traumatic minutes.
I ended up paying only 22,000 pesos (over $500) for the lens that was implanted in my eyeball while my Philippine health insurance was 19,000 pesos (nearly $400)
With medication and careful observance of the doctor's instructions, my recovery was fast.
Because my other eye also had a cataract, I still couldn't function visually without eyeglasses though, so my doctor recommended them. When I got the glasses a week later, I could see well again. The doctor said he could operate on my other eye but the problem was, I no longer had Philippine health insurance. I had to wait for another year.
For those who have medical problems like mine - or any other ailment - it is wise to have your health problems attended to here in Thailand, especially while you still have your social services benefits. If I were under 60, or even younger, I could have undertaken my cataract surgery here for free.
This summer vacation, I will have my other eye operated on in my own country so that I can enjoy my insurance and medical benefits.
How did I come to get these cataracts? I really don't know if it is hereditary because my father had them too. I really can't remember how I got them. I guess it is all part of aging. Although I had my eyeglasses when I was in first year high school, I think I stopped wearing them when I was in college because I felt uncomfortable.
My understanding at that time was I could see well without them so why bother putting them on? But when I had difficulty reading, I began wearing eyeglasses again. That was after my college graduation.
My advice to anyone is to go to the doctor if you have a serious eye problem. Then follow your doctor's advice. Once you have your eyeglasses, wear them! "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"
Early diagnosis helps. A regular visit to the ophthalmologist at least once a year is a must. Always wear your eyeglasses and have them changed if necessary. Of course, eating foods rich in Vitamin A will be of great help. Always be careful not to rub or poke your eyes too much.
I am looking forward to the time I undergo the second operation so that my other eye can function normally, efficiently and with ease.