Getting to see Christmas
SALEM – Jane Ford absolutely beamed as she prepared to go home without having to wear her glasses.
“I’ve been wearing glasses since I was 10 years old,” the 62-year-old said. “I already can see better,” she added, within minutes of coming out of cataract surgery that gave her sight for Christmas.
Ford and 16 other people from Salem and as far away as Martinsville and Pulaski got the gift of free cataract surgery on Dec. 17.
The surgery was provided by caring people at the Roanoke Valley Center for Sight, Vistar Eye Center and Eye Care & Surgery who volunteered to come in to work on their day off for their third annual Gift of Sight project.
In Ford’s case, it had only been a few months that she realized she couldn’t see well out of her left eye.
“I was driving along and when I closed my left eye, my right eye was clear and then when I closed my right eye, seeing out of my left eye was smoky,” she said.
Her driver that day was her son, Fincastle resident John Ford. Jane Ford was looking forward to getting back to driving herself soon, and to being able to see her six grandchildren clearly.
And to see at a distance without glasses. Ford said she knew she would get glasses for reading, but was excited she would be able to drive and do other things that involve seeing across a room and farther without having glasses.
Seeing life around her was much murkier for Salem resident Judy Morgado before her surgery Friday.
Her eye doctor told her about five months ago that no light was getting through the cornea in her left eye. “I was legally blind,” she said. “I couldn’t read, I had to give up driving.”
And perhaps what is worse for a woman than men can understand, “I couldn’t put my makeup on and couldn’t do my nails,” explained Morgado, who said doctors believe her diabetes might have contributed to her eye condition.
Unlike some of the first-time patients, Morgado knew what to expect when she went into surgery. She had laser cataract surgery and lens implantation in her other eye a month ago.
“It’s amazing how much I can see now. It was just a miracle,” said Morgado, adding that she did not have any pain from the first procedure, “just a little irritation.”
“I’m so excited. I plan to start driving my car again, and reading books,” she said.
For many of the staff, it was their third year to volunteer.
Vistar ophthalmologists Dr. John R. Wood, who did Ford and Morgado’s surgery, and Dr. Mark Robinson who did the post operative care talked about what the Gift of Sight project means to them and their colleagues.
“Not everyone has access to medical insurance,” Wood said. “This is an opportunity for us to give back for folks who need the surgery.”
He and Dr. Chad Albright did the surgery that day, in cooperation with Dr. William Thompson and other eye care professionals. Supplies were donated by a number of eye care vendors.
Nurses and administrative staff volunteered to come in “because it makes my Christmas,” said Rebecca Johnson, an operating room nurse from Salem.
Other patients were from Roanoke, Glasgow and Stuart.
Surgeries started at 8:30 a.m. and continued through 3 p.m. Robinson pointed out that Vistar provides cataract surgery throughout the year for patients who do not have insurance, but providing new sight in time for Christmas is special for the eye care professionals and their staff.
Wood, who lives in the Hunting Hills area, was also looking forward to later that weekend when his daughter, Lisa, – who graduated from Cave Spring High School – and her husband, Steve Purdy and 8-month-old granddaughter Marin, arrived from London. Marin will be baptized at St. John’s on Christmas Eve.