A Bishop’s Stortford woman, who feared she would be affected by the condition that robbed her mother and grandmother of their sight, is urging others to have regular eye checks after undergoing double eye surgery.
Grandmother-of-five Judy Kiff’s vision had begun to deteriorate over a number of years. She said: “I’d always enjoyed good eyesight, but it started to change. I could not even read the shop signs across the street, even with glasses.
“An optician told me my sight would never improve and could continue to deteriorate. I was very upset and worried. My mother and grandmother both went blind: it was so isolating for them and it stopped them doing the things they loved.”
Mrs Kiff began to struggle with daily life. She said: “I could not read the price labels or sell-buy dates at the supermarket. I love baking, but I struggled to read recipes, even with a magnifying glass, and knitting in the evening was impossible. I also struggled to keep playing golf, walking and gardening, which is how I keep fit.
“I began to lose my confidence: the last time I went to London I could not read the departures board at Liverpool Street Station.”
She even struggled to recognise faces. At that point, she went to an optician who diagnosed her as having cataracts in both eyes.
Mrs Kiff’s GP referred her for surgery. Her husband Dave researched centres that had excellent results and short waiting times and, as a result, she decided to travel to the North East London NHS Treatment Centre in Ilford.
She said: “Some hospitals had a waiting list of 18 weeks and I was really worried that, with my eye-sight deteriorating so rapidly, that was too long to wait. I had my first surgery within two weeks and the second four weeks later. The centre was exceptionally clean and everyone was so professional and friendly.”
The results have been remarkable and now she only needs reading glasses to see small print. Mrs Kiff said: “I went out to dinner and could read the menu, I can drive again and can help my grandchildren by providing lifts.
“I would advise everyone to have regular eye tests: there is no need to live in fear that you might have something that cannot be treated, and it is important to know that you are safe to drive.”
Ernest Onyema, who leads the centre’s ophthalmology team, said: “I’m delighted at Mrs Kiff’s recovery and I completely agree with her about regular sight checks. As well as cataracts, an eye-exam can reveal glaucoma, which builds pressure in the eyes, and it can also uncover macular degeneration, which can rob a person of their sight if it remains untreated.
“All of these conditions can be treated and the sooner an optician identifies the issue the better the results.”