One man’s appreciation for the gift of sight.


Thick and heavy 8.00 D (high plus) lenses with additional correction for astigmatism

Being born the youngest in a family of four boys is not the best place to begin life. Trying to keep up with the high standards and goals my brothers set in their lives was a challenge. But this is not what I am writing about. It is the vision condition I was saddled with that affected many experiences in my life.

At the age of four my parents took me to an eye doctor. They watched me squinting while I held picture books so close, they were almost touching my nose.

After a complete exam, the doctor explained to my parents I was very farsighted and had an extreme astigmatism in both my eyes. After this, he prescribed glasses saying they would make my vision near normal, but only if I wore them full time – first thing in the morning till the last thing at night.

Some of the children in school referred to the glasses I wore as “Coke bottle glasses”. When they called me four eyes, it usually resulted in a fight. Let me add at this point that no one was ever hurt and after the skirmish. We usually made up after these brief hostilities.

During summer vacation the city of Detroit Parks and Recreation supported baseball leagues at the various parks in the area. My brothers played some and encouraged me to join a team. I remember standing in the outfield watching the batter hit the ball only to see it disappear as I waited for it to come to me. By the time I caught sight of the ball I was not close enough to catch it. I was stationed in right field, except when a left-handed batter was up, then I was moved to left field. Not a vote of confidence! Let’s just say playing for the Detroit Tigers was not on my list of future goals for life.

When I turned fourteen, one of my first jobs was caddy at a local country club. My brothers had been caddies and were considered good. The good caddies always carried the bags for the “best” players. These were not the ones who got the lowest scores. Oh no, they were the players higher up on the social scale and the biggest tippers (these traits were almost mutually exclusive).

Let me explain what makes a good caddie. First and most important, the caddie must know where the golf ball went after the player hits it off the tee. The next was carrying the clubs and I had no problem with that. However, knowing where the ball went was a big problem. This was like looking for the baseball after it was hit in the air. The players I caddied for were not the big tippers.

My oldest brother served in The U.S. Army in the artillery during the Korean War. After I joined the Army at eighteen, my platoon sergeant asked me during basic training where I wanted to train. I told him, the artillery. My score on the rifle range was three points above passing. This didn’t mean much because I believe the guys keeping score were told to be sure EVERYONE passed.

When I got my orders, they were for medic school. I believe the Army did not want me to carry anything that might harm someone. Experiences like this throughout my life, affected the way I felt about those glasses that have made my life “quite livable” in the words of the first eye doctor.

Please understand, I did well with the various challenges that I met. That is; until approaching 80 my vision was getting blurry despite glasses and contact lenses. The reason? Like nearly everyone who reaches this age I was developing cataracts.

When I arranged to have cataract surgery, I was told by the team in the ophthalmologist’s office that several different procedures were available for a person who had an astigmatism like mine. One of them was a toric lens that could be implanted in my eyes to make it possible for me to see with normal vision without the need for glasses. Added to this would be a small “relaxing” incision in the cornea. These extra procedures were not covered by Medicare but the promise of normal vision without glasses after surgery made the extra cost worth it.

When I get up in the morning is when it really hits me. For 76 years the first thing I did every morning was put on my glasses so I could see properly. The reality hit me when I woke up and just like that I could see!! An operation on each eye that took minutes and a post-operative period with no pain and only the mild inconvenience of using drops for a few days made this possible. I realize the procedure and the special lenses are the result of advancement in medical technology and a surgeon’s skill but to me this has been a miracle.

Contributed by:  Joe Helveston

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2 thoughts on “Miracles Really Can Happen

  1. I can relate to this story, not personally, but because my older son was very myopic from a very young age and has needed very thick corrective glasses since age 6 until today at 56. He was not a candidate for corneal surgery. He has adapted fairly well but as he grows older and starts developing some presbyopia, he needs to change lenses. He had his share of bullying in grade school as well. Now he is doing well with no progression any more.
    I am very glad that the cataract surgery worked so well for you in correcting the astigmatism . Thanks for sharing the story.

  2. My husband has had eye surgery for a different condition but similarly helpful in results, so we appreciate the sense of the “miracle” you feel in your new life with visionary acuity. Thanks for sharing your story!
    Nancy Koskie

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