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21 Dec 2023

Hobby making revitalised for CHEC patient requiring extra level of care

CHEC Stand: B622
Hobby making revitalised for CHEC patient requiring extra level of care

Deteriorating eyesight impacts many different parts of our life, from our health and safety through to our hobbies and interests. For Barbara Potter, having cataracts was beginning to affect her favourite pastime of lacemaking. She sought the support of CHEC to bring her eyes back to full health, but came to rely on the team more than she expected during her surgery. 

A mother of two and grandmother of four, Northampton-based Barbara has worn glasses since the age of 11 but in 2015, she lost central vision in her left eye. Shortly after, she was diagnosed with myopic macular degeneration (MMD), a condition where the eyeball elongates and stretches the retina. A course of injections helped tackle the issue and Barbara was able to continue with her hobbies – which also included art and reading – without issue.

Soon after, Barbara was diagnosed with cataracts during a routine hospital visit to assess her MMD. As they weren’t posing any significant risk, she was told to monitor the cataracts and report back if they began to impact her life. By the summer of 2023, they had progressed significantly. 

A need to take action

“The seasons were changing, autumn and winter were incoming, and car headlights were beginning to really affect me at night,” Barbara said. “But I knew the cataracts must be getting worse as my eyesight was affecting my lacemaking, too. I was having to use a very large magnifying glass and thicker thread to see, neither of which is ideal for the intricate work I do. Reading also became more difficult.”

Barbara spoke to her optician, who shared the different options available, including waiting six weeks for a hospital consultation. Instead, on the advice of a friend, Barbara opted to be referred to CHEC, which works in partnership with the NHS to give patients the option of choice when it comes to the next steps in their treatment. 

Barbara said: “My friend couldn’t speak highly enough of the care they’d received, so that, along with the much shorter waiting times and knowing that CHEC works closely with the NHS, swayed me in their direction.”

Support going over and above

Within days of the referral being made, CHEC had made contact with Barbara to arrange a pre op for her first procedure, which took place in September. While the operation was a complete success, Barbara unfortunately suffered from a panic attack while in recovery. Thankfully, the CHEC team were on hand.

“I’ve never had a panic attack before, so I had no idea what was happening,” Barbara said. “I suddenly felt very overwhelmed, but the team spotted it and swooped in to help me. They talked me through breathing procedures and offered me some water. They really took their time with me until I felt better – they couldn’t have done more. Furthermore, they telephoned me the following day to make sure I had no lasting effects from the episode.”

Feeling reassured and with a plan in place to try and prevent a future panic attack, Barbara’s second procedure was booked in for the end of October. It went as planned, and without any issues, Barbara was sent home to recover – noticing an immediate difference to her sight. 

“Something I hadn’t realised before the first operation was how much my ability to see colour had been affected by the cataracts,” Barbara said. “After the operations, everything immediately seemed brighter and fresher, in the same way that a painting does when the old varnish is removed – it was the first thing I noticed. It was as if my eyesight had been on The Repair Shop and restored by an expert!

“The main change in my life, though, is my morning shower. Previously I’d have to take my glasses off and when I put them back on, they’d be steamed up and unusable. Now, I don’t need glasses at all.”

The right step to take

Now fully recovered from both operations, Barbara has been able to return to her hobbies, including her beloved lacemaking.

“I have been a lacemaker for about 40 years with both bobbin lace and needle lace, both of which are very fine,” she said. “Before my operation I found that I needed magnification in order to see the elaborate lace that I was making. Now that I have had my cataracts removed, I can see much clearer and no longer need the magnification at all.”

Thoroughly impressed with the experience and care provided, Barbara is now a strong advocate for CHEC and all the support it offers those struggling with their eyesight. 

“I’ve already recommended CHEC to several different people,” she said, “and will continue to recommend it in the future. The level of care and professionalism was excellent. Cataract surgery isn’t something anyone would look forward to but they made it easy. Choosing CHEC was definitely the right step to take.”

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