27 October 2017

A life changing operation By Nick McLeish, retired Firefighter and patient who has recently had an operation for cataracts

Nick shares his experience of what its like before and after cataract surgery

Nick McLeish

I was 51 when I found out I had cataracts. Vince, my optometrist, told me the news during a routine eye test.

A couple of years later, my sight had deteriorated. This was towards the end of my service as a Firefighter and I had noticed that number plates were getting harder to read until up close. But also as the Officer in Charge, assisting the driver to look for house numbers was sometimes impossible.

So, at my next optometrist appointment, I was referred to the eye hospital in Birmingham.

After another assessment I was told that I could have surgery if I wished, or they could be left a while longer. My cataracts weren’t severe but they were impacting my life, especially with my job – so I opted for surgery.

I had concerns that if I had my right eye done, would I be able to get surgery on my left eye too?

When talking to the surgeons, I was put at ease. I was also told that I could get my second eye done as soon as the first eye had settled down. They told me the replacement lens would have the same prescription as my glasses, so I wouldn’t need them anymore. I’d be able to see long distances easily.

The day I arrived for surgery I was a bit apprehensive but I knew that this operation would make a big difference.

I was given some eye drops to dilate my pupils, then I had an eye check before heading into the operating theatre. 

I will not go into the finer details but I can say I have had more discomfort from dirt and dust in my eye than the delicate fingers of my surgeon.

Almost immediately, in the operating room I could see a remarkable change to my vision.

The next morning, I looked out at the house about 150m away with my left eye without glasses. I could see nothing, with glasses it was blurry. But with my right eye – I could see the roof in detail down to repairs and broken tiles.

Take 2.

A couple of months later I was back at the hospital to have my left eye done. The sight in my left eye could be best described as woolly/fuzzy compared to the clear vision in my right eye.

Next morning, I looked at the same houses as before. My left and right eye gave the same amazing result, my distance vision felt near perfect.

In my opinion this is a life changing operation. At the start of my cataract journey I didn’t expect the results I have experienced as I hadn’t noticed the slow decline in sight - imagine the results for somebody with severe cataracts.


  • I am facing the same problem in the next few years and was, frankly, terrified of eye surgery. Thank you for sharing your story; it has made me feel more relaxed and actually looking forward to better vision!

  • So pleased to hear about your experience. I am slightly older but experience a difficulties at work and thinking I would be looking st early retirement. My op is in a weeks time - I feel quite excited now. Thank you for sharing !

Leave comment