Benito Vacio

Eye talk

Looking after your eyes and eyesight is so important

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.



Thanks, Joy. It was done. Now, I have a 20/20 vision on both eyes. I use eyeglasses still because my right eye has astigmatism especially for reading.

By Benito Vacio, Thailand (26th March 2014)

Did you have your second eye surgery already? How was it? It will surely help you see things more clearly, literally.

By Joy, (25th March 2014)

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