I was diagnosed with glaucoma in 2005, after a routine eye test and screening by a new optician. At this time, I had no symptoms and no awareness of any deterioration in my sight. The optician immediately referred me to a consultant ophthalmologist. The consultant explained that there was considerable damage to both optic nerves, but particularly to my right eye, which he described to me as ‘hanging on by a thread.’ The pressure in both eyes was reasonable – being around 14 – 15.
My treatment consisted of eye drops usually three, sometimes four times a day. I tried many different combinations, but they had only marginal effects in lowering the pressure. Field tests continued to show a deterioration and I gradually became aware of a narrowing field of vision and my vision started to become less distinct. This was more noticeable following a canaloplasty operation on my right eye.
A. Missing areas in field of vision I was aware of what felt like dead areas in my vision, particularly in my right eye. I knew that my field of vision had narrowed. My right eye would sometimes be very hazy first thing in the morning and struggled to get going, the vision was becoming cloudy and (if I covered my left eye) I had to turn my head to see anything beyond a small circle. I had stinging and redness in both eyes and my eyes watered constantly and profusely, particularly in any change of atmosphere, e.g. from indoors to out, which made simple things like supermarket shopping difficult.
B. Blurriness of central vision. I am a lifelong avid reader, but reading was also becoming increasingly difficult. Despite having reading glasses, I stopped reading books as ordinary text was too small. I used an electronic device, with a font size of 7 or 8 but still at times the text would become blurry and I would have to stop and rest my eyes. This was the same for my computer use, and as a published writer who loved writing, I came to the painful decision that I wouldn’t be able to write another novel because of the strain it would cause on my eyes. I knew I would never stop writing completely but I had resigned myself to writing shorter pieces and limiting my output.
C. Increased sensitivity to light.Glare was a problem, turning on my phone first thing in the morning meant I had to squint against the brightness of the screen and hold it away from me. My computer screen likewise. Sunlight was difficult and in any bright light especially near windows I found myself needing to shade my eyes and block the light or to wear sunglasses. I made the decision as far as possible, to stop driving at night because of the glare of headlights but also because things seemed indistinct and blurry at the edges of my vision and I couldn’t always be sure what I was seeing. Anti-glare driving glasses did help to some extent, but I did not feel confident. Generally, I felt my night vision was poor.
Most days I had to lie down at some point and close my eyes in order to rest them and to stop the stinging and watering. My eyes were always red, which people often commented on. I found it impossible to do small tasks like putting on makeup, cleaning and cooking in the house without reaching for my reading glasses. They helped but not completely, and I was very aware that I was not always seeing the small detail that others saw. I would sometimes ask people like my husband or daughter if something looked OK.
Perhaps worst of all I began to feel that losing the sight in my right eye was inevitable and would happen soon and that eventually I would lose my sight altogether. This led to a general loss of confidence, a feeling that age was catching up with me and a worry about future dependency. I feared that my life was becoming smaller and more closed in.
My latest primary care consultant was recommending another operation on my right eye. I felt this would be a mistake and reducing my pressure below 12 (which was the current measurement) would not help.
Although I’d been told that optic nerve damage was not treatable, I began to search treatment for glaucoma, and that’s when I came across the Fedorov Restore Vision Clinic. By the time I made the decision to come to Germany my eyesight was worsening and causing me considerable concern. I read the information and immediately began to feel hopeful that this could help me. I shared the link with my husband and my son, who were both keen for me to find out more. From my very first enquiry I found the clinic immediately responsive and very upfront about their processes. I was impressed by the fact that they did not offer treatment unless they assessed you as a suitable candidate. This meant getting my hospital records and forwarding them to the clinic which I thought would be difficult but simply involved a request and several emails to my consultant’s secretary.
My final decision to go to Berlin was influenced by the material I read on the website, which confirmed the research I’d read about, and by the excellent communication I had with the clinic secretary. There was of course, no way I could be sure that this would help me, but everything was pointing in that direction, and as far as I could see there was no other help available.
It was after my very first treatment that I noticed a change in my vision! As I came out of the clinic, I looked across the street at a large pink flower on a graffitied wall. The colour was vivid. I could see the detail and the texture of the paint itself. I looked around me, the cars were somehow brighter and shinier than before and the leaves on the trees were more distinct. On waking the next morning, I looked around the room of our Airbnb then out of the window at the grassy courtyard and the leaves of the lime trees. It was still the same, everything was brighter and clearer.
The improvement continued. Berlin was sunny but the sunlight no longer bothered me, and I didn’t feel the need for sunglasses. My eyes had miraculously stopped stinging and watering. My husband told me they looked entirely different. They felt it. On a double treatment day when I left the clinic, I looked down at the dress I was wearing, had it always been so blue? My trainers look brand new. The world seemed sparkling and alive. It was as if a switch had been turned on and my vision had woken up. I could see more, the edges of my vision were wider and clearer. It was as if my eyes had doubled in size and I no longer felt that deadness in my right eye.
Although I knew before I left Berlin that my vision had been changed beyond anything I’d hoped for, it was when I arrived home and slipped back into my ordinary routines that I noticed many other changes.
I could read comfortably and with a smaller font - size 5- 6. I could also imagine reading a book again and have done so. My vision did not blur and move while I was reading, and my eyes did not get tired. I have not once had to lie down and close my eyes in order to rest them. All stinging, redness and watering has gone, and a number of people have commented on how open and different my eyes look. I no longer feel I have to limit my time on the computer. Screen glare no longer affects me on my computer or phone. I am writing every day and with my publisher I’m planning a new publication for 2021
Shopping in the supermarket is much easier as I don’t have to contend with dripping eyes. I can work in the kitchen without reaching for my glasses. I see so much more detail – especially in small marks, in patterns, colours and finer details around me.
I have driven a number of times at night and feel I have more clarity and increased confidence. My sight is no longer sluggish in the morning and I find I simply do not think about my eyes, whereas before I was always worrying about them.
The treatment has without doubt changed my life. It has given me a new confidence in my vision, in the future, and my ability to continue doing the things I love, particularly reading and furthering my career as a writer. I feel younger and healthier and it has encouraged me to commit to keeping up with exercise especially walking. My eyes themselves, feel and look much healthier, so much so that I am no longer constantly worrying about them and about the prospect of losing my sight completely.
I realise now, that slowly, over the years, my vision had been dimming and I had grown accustomed to seeing poorly. Now the world is a different place and probably the things I still notice most, especially when out walking, are the colours and details of the natural world, which had been slipping away from me.
My experience of the Federov Restore Vision has been life changing and I pay tribute to the dedication and commitment of Dr Federov and his staff. It is a wonderful, friendly and hopeful place to visit. I went with the hope that the treatment could delay the progression of my glaucoma. I could not have imagined that my vision would have improved in the way it has. I did not expect to feel as I do, that my whole life has changed, and the world has opened up to me once more.