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Some two odd years ago, my optometrist told me that my eyesight would be deteriorating over the next year, because of cataracts developing in both of my eyes. I felt reassured, because the cataracts had not developed to such an extent that my vision was not yet impaired.

A year later, another eye sight test, and the Main Man told me that I should consider putting myself and the eye test results forward, via my GP, to the NHS, for consideration as to Cataract Surgery. I agreed, because if a specialist states I may soon have a problem, I wanted to do something towards the removal of that problem.

In due course, at the lava-flow speed of the NHS, I received instructions from the NHS that I could book a consultation with an eye specialist. I followed the booking procedure, and received word that, yes, I could make an appointment: but only after a waiting period of forty eight weeks. After a short pause to check if my bank balance was still healthy, I commenced calling all the Private Hospitals to see if my needs could be accomodated. I chose a Newcastle Hospital, as the optical surgery people said that there were vacancies with only a six week wait before the surgery could be done. This of course was at a cost of +/-£2,500.00. I was given the full test treatment, eyes measured for the lens replacement, and had my Left Eye given the full ‘decoke’ treatment. After a three week wait, so my eye sight could adjust itself to the new lens, I found that my left eyesight had gained the full clarity of fifty years ago. 

As I really could not afford another private operation, I set myself to wait; but Lady Luck smiled, and I was contacted by the NHS, and asked If I could take up an appointment which had been cancelled at short notice. So, early March, I was there like a shot, but found that, as opposed to Private Practice, everything moved with that afore-mentioned lave flow speed. I had one appointment with a female consultant, who had all my notes. She checked me out, then told me that I would be given another appointment to be measured. I did murmur that I wondered why I couldn’t be measured then and there, as they had all the latest optical equipment. I honestly did not know until that moment that a facial expression could mirror the mind behind that face, but I learnt at the speed of light that this was the NHS, not private practice, and everyone had to take their place in the queue. 

So I returned, and had my right eye’s lens measured. I then had to cancel the first operation appointment, because I had an attack of the Virus, so had to wait six weeks, as the hospital demanded that no possibility existed of the virus getting exposed in one of their operating theatres. But I eventually got to lie down, and have this alarmingly attractive young woman (Well, at my age everyone is young) slice into my eye, and conduct the whole caboodle with care and accuracy. I had to return in two weeks, so this young woman could remove the suture she had placed on the top corner of my eye, and three weeks after that, I was eye-tested, and given the all-clear.

So the reader may ask why an eighty-one year old bloke is describing the tortuous route towards regaining full vision with the cataract operations. It is simply this: if you drive, you MUST, MUST, MUST, ensure that your vision meets the legal requirement for driving, you have to be able to read a vehicle number plate at 20 metres. (66 feet away). The DVLA requires that, if you cannot meet that standard, you remove yourself from driving, until an optometrist conducts the tests, and allows for corrective glasses, or indeed an operation, which will then allow you to drive safely.

Grandfather James Tassell would be alive today if “Reckless and foolish” Peter Gardner, 82, nearly the same age as myself, had such poor vision he “shouldn’t have been driving” when he “catapulted” James Tassell six feet into the air. His vision was so bad he could not make out a car licence plate three metres (9ft 10ins) away.

A court also heard the retired rail worker had recently been told by an optician he may be developing cataracts – but failed to arrange a follow-up appointment.

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