Health

Monday 14 July 2014

Jason Kennedy: From nearly blind to almost perfect vision

"From the age of two, I was given a set of glasses and that was that"

When I was a child, the doctor told my parents I'd never be a pilot. It's nothing to do with my aeronautical abilities or the fact that I looked like a baby who might have a fear of heights. It was because my vision was so poor, that even as a nipper, the medical experts agreed my limited sight would hinder my capabilities as an adult. At the age of two, I was given a set of glasses and that was that.

It's nothing to do with my aeronautical abilities or the fact that I looked like a baby who might have a fear of heights. It was because my vision was so poor, that even as a nipper, the medical experts agreed my limited sight would hinder my capabilities as an adult. At the age of two, I was given a set of glasses and that was that.

Not only was I given glasses, but I was given glasses that were so strong and so very thinned down, they looked like milk bottles on my face. This was the story of my life until I was around 18.

I was extremely short sighted. I was always told my eyesight was somewhere in the area of minus 15. I was never sure what that actually stood for or what it meant for me, but it's not too far off legally blind. Whenever I didn't have my glasses on, much like a cheap camera lens, the world would be out of focus and blurred to the point where I couldn't tell faces that are right in front of me.

Wearing glasses was never that much of a hindrance or a bother. It was all I ever really know. Granted, as a awkward teenager, my geeky glasses probably suited my suitably gawkish demeanour.

At the odd party or social gathering I went to, my glasses would be passed around for people to wear and see how blind I am. Not long after trying on my headgear, the similar reprise of "Jesus Jason, you're fair blind" was often chimed in. This is how I got my kicks in Tipperary.

At 18, I came to the conclusion that wearing massive glasses wasn't the sexiest or most attractive of attires and I welcomed contact lenses into my eyes. In my first day of leaving cert year, I strutted into school sans glasses and was left pretty stunned at the amount of people who actually didn't recognise me. A bizarre experience, considering I shared around five years at school with these guys.

This was all well and good for the short time, but my sight was still woeful and putting lenses in my eyes on a daily basis was probably not helping. Jump forward to the age of 21, when I decided to give laser eye ago.

Alas, my vision was too bad for laser eye surgery. If I got the amount of surgery I needed to, my cornea would be left dangerously thin, which is not something you want to hear. The only option left was the little-known surgery involving phakic lens implants.

During the surgery, which thankfully involved an anaesthetic, incisions would be made in my eye and these implants would be clipped into place with microscopic metal clips, before being stitched up. Perhaps not the most palatable of operations, but it was either that or face a future where my eyesight could deteriorate into nothingness.

These operations took place two weeks apart, due to their invasive nature and regular trips up to the big smoke were required, so the optical experts at the Mater Private Hospital could make sure the lenses were staying in place.

Around four years later, my vision is just about perfect. The only disadvantage is in the occasional photograph the flash may reflect of my lens, which makes me look more than a little terminator-esque, which isn't even a minor squabble when my sight has improved so much.

A day piloting a small plane is definitely on the bucket list.

Irish Independent

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