The decision to visit Sri Lanka after a seventeen year gap was a coincidence, and all because I got angry and frustrated at the prospect of my diminishing sight as the cataracts affecting both eyes, decreased my vision as well as my confidence in my driving ability. This, in addition to the frustration and aggravation of finding that the expensive varifocal lenses I’d habitually worn were no longer effective, so I required an additional pair for reading and using the computer.
It was a recipe for frustration and anger when I learned I had about as much chance as a snowball in a hot place of having the necessary surgery in UK on the NHS as waiting lists were for marathon runners only. Of course, if I wished to pay, as a private patient, the current fee of several thousands of pounds to a British ophthalmologist, I could have the procedure within days. That’s when the idea of revisiting Sri Lanka was born.
Friends living there reported they’d had their cataracts removed by laser surgery and corrective lenses implanted so they could see to drive, and even read those pesky motorway signs that seemed to rush up and pass one before allowing you to read what’s on them. It wasn’t difficult to make my decision when they issued an invitation to visit and consult their Sri Lankan ophthalmologist.
I found myself applying for a new passport two years after my old one had expired. I’d not thought I’d be renewing it, but, with that and my return ticket in my handbag, I duly set off on 5th February. Now, on the 25th February I await the second procedure on my right eye on 1st March, secure in the knowledge that I can already see clearly with my left eye since the removal of the cataract and insertion of the corrective lens almost two weeks ago.
Why, I keep asking myself, is it possible to get such amazing state-of-the-art laser surgery, in pristine conditions, with a dedicated team of clinicians in Sri Lanka,(and even in Poland, so I understand from friends who have undergone the procedure, there is a similar option) for under five-hundred pounds, when patients in UK , personal friends included, are being charged as much as two thousand pounds for the removal of one cataract, from one eye, without an implant? Could it be that the medical fraternity in UK has been smitten by the same bug as that prevalent for many years in the USA – they all want to be millionaires yesterday rather than tomorrow.