When Cathy Hudson sets out this spring with her husband to hit some of the country’s most savory barbecue competitions, she’ll see the world with new eyes – literally. That’s because she recently restored her vision through cornea transplant surgery.
“It feels like everything is in high-def now,” Hudson marveled. “It was just tissue donation, but it changed my life.”
Hudson’s vision loss was gradual and was caused by Fuchs’ dystrophy, a hereditary disease that causes the corneal lining to deteriorate. She’s certain her father had it, too.
“I remember how hard it was for him to lose his vision,” she said. As with many diseases, Hudson, 61, noticed an effect on her quality of life.
She had begun to avoid driving at night. She lost excitement for activities such as watching movies. And she became worried she might have to stop working before age 65. Hudson is Nurse Manager for the cardiac Transition Care Unit at St. Elizabeth Edgewood.
Without cornea transplant surgery, her vision was only going to get worse.
“I needed to see better,” she recalled. “There really was no question about getting the surgery.”
Re-engaged in life
Hudson’s first surgery in February 2016 restored vision in her left eye from 20/200 to 20/30. This means she could only see clearly at 20 feet what someone with normal vision sees at 200 feet. In November, she had surgery on her right eye to improve its 20/60 vision. It can take up to a year for each eye to reach full vision.
“Now things are just more in focus,” Hudson said.
At Christmas, she felt more connected to her wide-eyed, 3-year-old granddaughter. “I could see everything going on with her,” she recalled.
She’s enjoying movies again, too, and recently was overwhelmed by the special effects in the new Star Wars movie. “I love Star Wars!” she exclaimed.
“Now, everything’s clearer and in better detail. I didn’t have that before. I didn’t really know what I was missing until I had it again.”
Hudson’s also looking forward to those upcoming barbecue road trips because now, she can actually see the foliage along the way.
“I knew there were trees, and I knew they had leaves on them, but I just couldn’t see them,” she explained.
Hudson has always been an advocate for organ donation. “I’ve been an organ donor for years and years, but I never thought I’d need it.” Her experience has been so positive that her husband, who’d previously never wanted to donate his organs, is now an organ donor.
“I’ve always thought that if you can give to make someone’s life better, then that’s something you should do,” she said. “If people could put themselves in the shoes of someone who has a condition limiting their life, then more people would decide to become organ donors.”
In Hudson’s case, she’s thankful someone made that decision.
“I’m going to be able to do a lot more things,” she predicted. “I’m just so grateful and humbled to have had this done. It’s like everything’s an adventure now.”
SmartHealthToday is a service of St. Elizabeth Healthcare.