“I just thought, let me work again and have a life again."
Photo: Nancee Lewis
Tricia Mandronico was only 49 when she developed cataracts in both eyes, and it quickly became a huge problem. “I was working as an apartment manager,” she recounts, “and I just couldn’t see any more. My boss gave me a copy of a lease, and I couldn’t read it. I tried using magnifying glasses and I still couldn’t see it.”
She couldn’t see well enough to read a computer screen. “I faked seeing as long as I could because I was afraid of losing my job. I faked it by having friends come in and help me with reading and data entry. I had tenants fill out their own leases. It wasn’t easy to hide from my boss that I couldn’t see and he quickly caught on.”
Outside of work, her troubles also escalated. “I didn’t drive at all. Crossing the street, I couldn’t see whether the light was red or green. I had to wait for other people to cross.”
And if a friend approached her on the street to say hi, she didn’t know who she was talking to. “I had panic attacks; I fell down stairs. And reading has always been my life’s passion so losing that was very hard on me.”
Finally she lost her job. “I went to see a doctor and he diagnosed me with severe cataracts. I was blind, I had no health insurance and no savings.”
Fortunately, Tricia had a neighbor who knew about LSH. “I got an application, and within a month it was approved.”
Tricia went to the Shiley Eye Institute, where her cataracts were removed last December.
“I was never afraid, never scared. I knew I needed it done so badly, there was no fear inside me. I just thought, let me work again and have a life again.”
Now Tricia has her life back. “When they first took off the bandages and I could see, the colors were so beautiful,” she recalls with emotion.
“It felt so good to see again and be independent again. I was so grateful. I thought, how can I ever give back, how can I show my appreciation of how great it is to get your vision back?”
Tricia now has a new job, and she regularly visits a home-bound 100-year-old friend.
And on the lighter side, she now knows what her cat looks like. “I found my cat when I couldn’t see,” she explains. When she got her vision back, the animal looked nothing like what she had imagined.