"I remember looking up at the sky and it was the bluest I'd ever seen; and clouds, puffy white clouds.”
A part-time caregiver, Judy Choat had to retire when she developed cataracts and lost her eyesight. “My eyesight was deteriorating very rapidly,” she remembers. “I was unable to see the colors of stop signs and stop lights. I was unable to read books, see my computer, or read forms. Nothing was clear.”
Now without a job, she had no medical insurance. She could not afford the surgery to correct the problem.
“Losing my eyesight was devastating to me,” Judy says. ‘It was debilitating enough that I began to be very depressed about not being able to be active. I felt very alone when I lost my job and I felt like this was the end for me. I didn’t have a way to support myself, and that was extremely difficult.”
It was hard to continue her other activities as well. “I’m very active with senior programs and I’m active in the community.” One of her hobbies – making seashell-embellished mirrors – brought in some extra income, but that was a challenge too. “I couldn’t see to place the shells around the mirrors and I was burning myself with the glue gun.”
Driving was a worry, along with simple, everyday navigation. “One time I was putting my car into the garage and wiped out the side of it because I didn’t know how close I was to the side of the garage,” she recounts.
“Without depth perception, you can’t walk down stairs. It was very difficult to cook meals; trying to grab a pot of boiling water on the stove and it’s not where you thought it was. Household chores, simple things that you don’t think about, become impossible.”
As a second cataract began to progress, it was determined that Judy was legally blind. “Driving was the ultimate loss for me. I felt as though I was at the end of my rope.”
Fortunately, Judy found Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation. “They were extremely informative and kind,” she says. “I was given a contact name and when she was on the other end of the phone she was like an angel – amazing and reassuring. They went beyond being supportive — I felt as though I had made new friends.”
That’s when her life began to turn around. “When I was told I could receive the surgery and go back to doing the things I love, it was such a blessing and an enormous feeling of relief. I almost wanted to cry.”
After the surgery, Judy saw dramatic results. “Within a week I was able to see flowers and colors. I remember looking up at the sky and it was the bluest I’d ever seen; and clouds, puffy white clouds.”
Beyond that, she regained her independence. “I knew where I was at all times; I was never lost.”
Judy remains grateful for the help she received from LSH. “This is a miracle; it’s God’s blessing; it’s unbelievable.”
And her experience carries over into her work in the community. “In my volunteer work I really began to understand how important it is when people need help, to reach out to help them. That’s what they did for me.”