The following article was written by Trevor Coleman for The Detroit
A WONDERFUL NEW VIEW ON LIFE COMES
COURTESY OF AN EYE SURGEON
Detroit Free Press (MI)
By TREVOR COLEMAN
Date: April 8, 1999; Page: 14A
Edition: METRO FINAL; Section: EDP; EDITORIAL
Illustration: Photo JEFF KOWALSKY/Special to the Free Press
It was still dark when I got up on that cold winter morning.
The wood of the hallway floor chilled my feet as I padded toward
I stopped to peek out a small window to see what the weather
was doing. From behind the sheer curtains I saw the pure white,
fresh snow resting like a blanket on the roof of my garage.
In the glow of the lamp, the crystals of snow sparkled like
tiny diamonds. How beautiful, I thought.
In the bathroom, I stared bleary-eyed into the mirror, rubbing
the stubble on my face, thinking about the day that awaited
I noticed the specks of gray in my morning shadow, even in
my eyebrows. I touched my scalp where I was balding and shook
my head at the sight of my receding hairline.
I gently rubbed my eyes and thought to myself, "All of
this gray. Boy, am I getting . . ."
And then it hit me.
I was not wearing my glasses. I had left them on the nightstand.
Yet, I saw with a clarity I could never have imagined.
It had been only a few days since my second round of surgery
to repair a cataract problem, yet my vision had improved so
significantly that at 39, I felt years younger.
The surgery performed by Dr. David Shepherd at Grace Ambulatory
Hospital in Southfield was called phaco-emulsification with
an intraocular lens implant.
In English, Shepherd used a device with an ultrasonic tip (vibrating
40,000 times a second) to emulsify, or break down, the cataract
and suck it out.
He then replaced my natural lenses with an acrylic set. He
also operated to decrease my astigmatism.
Shepherd, who has been performing such surgeries since 1975
and does hundreds a year, said technology has changed so vastly
that what was once a very physically traumatic operation is
now done on an out-patient basis. Patients get back to their
normal routine within days -- and with a much better view.
"When I was in training, we used to keep people in the
hospital for two weeks with one eye and three weeks for the
second eye," he said.
"It was a totally different operation. It was much more
A cataract is a clouding of the transparent lens of the eye.
When a cataract develops, the lens becomes like a frosted window
and may cause a painless blurring of vision.
If a large portion of the lens becomes cloudy, sight can be
partly or completely lost until the cataract is removed.
More than a million people undergo such surgery every year.
And with new advances in laser surgeries, even people suffering
from diabetic retinopathy who used to be doomed to blindness
can, with argon laser surgery, have the deleterious effects
of the disease significantly slowed down.
Millions more who might have had diminished eyesight have been
given new leases on life by two relatively recent procedures
-- called photo-refractive keratectomy and LASIK -- to reduce
near- and far-sightedness in healthy eyes.
"Eighty to 95 percent of patients end up with 20/40 or
better uncorrected vision," Shepherd said. "That means
when they are not wearing glasses they can legally drive a car
My vision had started becoming impaired by cataracts a few
years ago. I noticed that I needed my eyeglass prescription
changed much more frequently. Even with new glasses, I still
had problems seeing clearly.
The surgery has changed that dramatically, more than I realized
I have been wearing glasses since I was about 4 years old.I
cannot remember ever getting up in the dark and attempting to
walk anywhere with out them.
I certainly never drove or tried to read or do work without
glasses. And although I still use them, I have a newfound freedom
to do things without them: read, drive, write and swim.
It may sound silly to most people, but being able to see clearly
Colors look a lot richer and deeper, everything seems so much
brighter. I see little freckles, dimples and blemishes on my
children's faces that I never noticed before.
It's funny how sometimes we never appreciate the beauty all
around us until it fades away.
Shepherd gave me a second chance to see it. And I shall forever
savor the view.
Trevor W. Coleman is a Free Press editorial writer. You can
reach him at 1-313-222-6456, or write him at the Detroit Free
Press Editorial Page, 600 W. Fort St., Detroit, Mich. 48226,
or via E-mail at email@example.com