How Cataract Surgery Gave One Man His Life Back

In 2005, a back injury on a construction site prompted James Ross to switch jobs and start driving trucks. A few years later, medication prescribed for the back injury presented a side effect that would stall his truck driving career – cataracts. At age 51, James was desperatley in need of cataract surgery, but could not afford the cost of surgery. After a quick google search James learned about the Operation Sight program. Once screened and approved James was matched with volunteer surgeon Jeffrey Whitman, MD, from Key-Whitman Eye Center in Dallas, Texas. 

Dr. Whitman is a big advocate for Operation Sight because the program helps people get their vision back, and for many, get back to their working lives."There is a huge need for the program because many people who lose their jobs – or can’t get work because they can’t see – also can’t get or afford health insurance because they are unable to work."

As Dr. Whitman explains, “Everyone I’ve seen through this program wants to work or get back to work. Like a truck driver who loses his license because he can’t see well enough to drive or a teacher who can’t see to do what she needs to in the classroom, we’ve seen all of that. There are many ways you can get people back on their feet, but these folks just want to get back to a normal useful participation in the workforce type of life, they simply need the vision for it.”

Like many young cataract patients, James started developing cataracts at the age of 40 due to a medication. However, regaining his vision after cataracts was a long journey. “In 2010, I got one of the cataracts removed. After that, my wife and I were dealing with some financial and family issues, so I’ve been trying to get the second cataract removed for some time,” James says.

His cataract was so bad that James had a driving restriction on his license. He also had to give up the activities he once enjoyed doing like playing basketball and baseball. 

After cataract surgery, Ross’s vision has improved drastically, he can now see to drive and is ready to get back on the road again.

At his post-operative exam following cataract surgery at Key-Whitman, Ross’s visual acuity was 20/30 without correction. Even better, he has a letter from Dr. Whitman stating that his vision has been corrected, so he can go to the DMV and get the restriction removed from his driver’s license. 

“The best thing about having cataract surgery for me was regaining control of my life. I can drive again. I can work again. I don’t have to worry about always driving in the right hand lane. It’s just awesome, and I’m so thankful,” Ross says.

 Operation Sight is only possible because of the efforts of our dedicated volunteers like Dr. Whitman. To volunteer or learn more on the Operation Sight program visit ascrsfoundation.org/osvolunteer

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