Cataracts may be the oldest eye disease on record | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Just like Inquirer Lifestyle columnist Gilda Fernando Cordero, I finally gathered enough courage to undergo cataract surgery, after several years of vacillating.

Although the surgical procedure is supposed to be a simple, low-risk operation lasting no more than 15 minutes, I was hesitant to undergo it because of my long-standing fear of medical surgery (but not psychic surgery done by our Filipino faith healers).

What finally made me decide to have it done was when a friend, Carlos “Padjo” Defino, retired official of Belle Corporation, told me during lunch at Tagaytay Highlands that he had his cataract removed and it was completely painless.

When I asked him where he had it done, he said at the Asian Eye Institute at the Rockwell complex in Makati. I found out that his Japanese wife, Tomoko, works there as interpreter for Japanese patients.

When I asked him who was the ophthalmologist who did the surgery, he said it was Dr. Robert Edward Ang. Padjo had nothing but praise for the expertise of Dr. Ang.

I had never heard of Asian Eye Institute. I had already inquired from another eye clinic in Makati. Since my vision was not really that bad, and because of my fear of surgery, I did not pursue the plan.

Blurred vision

Months passed and my vision gradually blurred. I consulted an optometrist for a change of eyeglasses. She, however, said it would not be advisable to replace my glasses because my vision would continue to get worse.

True enough, it did.

So, I did some research on Asian Eye Institute. It was established in 2001 by two recognized leaders in their fields, Oscar M. Lopez of the Lopez Group of Companies, and Dr. Felipe I. Tolentino, the renowned Filipino-American ophthalmologist.

I also learned that Dr. Ang, whom Padjo had recommended to perform my cataract surgery, is the only doctor in the Philippines to have finished two sub-specialty programs at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School (namely, glaucoma and cornea and refractive surgery).

He earned his medical degree from University of the Philippines.

Strict screening

After several weeks of thinking whether to undergo the surgery, I finally had it done on March 2.

Before that, I had to undergo a very detailed and strict screening process to know my eye condition (including the health of and number of cells in my eyes), and choose the most appropriate “intraocular” lens to use.

Since I would not be allowed to drive after the surgery, I was driven by a close family friend and former student, Celine Perpinan, a real-estate broker and preschool superintendent.

The surgery went very smoothly and I didn’t feel anything. The laser machine used was the Victus Femtolaser, which makes the procedures more precise.

I learned that Asian Eye is the only eye clinic in the Philippines with this apparatus. My blood pressure, which usually shoots up when under stress, was recorded at 120/75, to my great surprise!

A day after the operation, I had my checkup, and Dr. Ang smiled broadly as he announced to me that the operation was beautiful, as though he was describing a woman.

Dr. Ang has performed over 7,000 cataract surgeries and sees as many as 60 patients a day.

Anaesthesiologist Dr. Joy Ang, a graduate of the University of Santo Tomas Medical School, applied the local anesthesia on me.

But do you know what else I found out about cataracts? Although the word was first used in the English language in the mid-16th century, this eye condition was already known in ancient times.

Gall of large fish

In the Apocryphal Book of Tobit in the Christian Bible, I read the following passage in Chapter 3 verse 17: “So Raphael was sent to heal both of them: Tobit, by removing the white films from his eyes, so that he might see God’s light with his eyes; and Sarah, daughter of Raquel, by giving her in marriage to Tobias, son of Tobit.”

How was Tobit’s cataract healed? The Book tells us that the gall of large fish from the Tigris River was anointed on his eyes “where white films have appeared, blow upon them, upon the white films,” and his eyes were healed. Unfortunately, the Bible did not identify what large fish was used for this purpose.

So, we can rightfully say that, if prostitution is the oldest profession, cataract is the oldest eye disease on record.

The next Psychic Reading and Remote Viewing (three-hour workshop) will be on March 21, 9 a.m.- 12 nn, at Rm. 308 Prince Plaza I Cond., Legaspi St. Greenbelt Makati. Call 8107245 or 0998-9886292.

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