Dr. Slade

As Dr. Baker summed it all up, “Wow. Some days are better than others.”

There are patient stories about surgery and then there are stories that bring you to tears and change your day.  This is one of those.  He brought tears to our own doctors eyes the day after his surgery. He brought tears to my eyes as he was standing outside of work this morning and sharing this. And after you look at the amount of patients Drs. Slade & Baker have treated over the years, you will learn, this only happens with a powerful story like this one.

“Buster”, as he is lovingly called by all friends and family, came to see us in Houston, Texas all the way from the DC/Baltimore area.  At 46 years old, Buster is a very young patient to have the surgery he had–laser cataract surgery with the LenSx laser.

Buster grew up in Indiana and at 6 years old he suffered from retinal detachments in both eyes which left him nearly blind.  One summer when he was 18 years old he remembers working in the corn fields and seeing what he recalls as “the sky falling apart.” He had suffered another retinal detachment. These retinal detachments happened to him several times and he eventually lost his sight completely in his right eye.

At 41 years old Buster was diagnosed with a retinal hole in his “good eye” and went under a laser to repare it.  In 2010 he had to give up driving completely.  He was grateful to at least have some sight left to do some work and see his computer while 2 inches away from his face.  Buster was so thankful even though he dealt with the every day issues of being nearly blind.  He tripped over the curb, fell down steps regularly and felt the embarrassment of not knowing who people were that waved or said hello to him.

At a routine retinal exam in July of this year (2014), Buster’s retinal specialist told him “your cataract is so bad I cannot see into your retina,” as the retina sits in the back of the eye.  Buster was referred to a cataract surgeon in his area at a very reputable hospital but with his entire traumatic past, he felt uncomfortable with this surgeon and his approach.

This led Buster to the internet where he spent hours researching, which then led him to Youtube.  One night he stumbled onto Dr. Stephen Slade’s videos about the laser cataract surgery procedure with the LenSx laser.  Buster read that Dr. Slade was a pioneer in the field and had performed the first lasik surgery ever in the United States as well as the first laser cataract surgery.  He remembers feeling that the explanations Dr. Slade gave during the videos online made him feel even more comfortable than the in-person consultation he had with the surgeon in his area.  This made him book an appointment with Drs. Slade & Baker in Houston and buy a plane ticket.

On his flight to Houston Buster remembers his wife pulling out a rosary.  Everyone in his family was rightfully concerned about the chances of the surgery, and Dr. Baker even explains that many times with patients like this the risks of surgery can outweigh the needs, even though Buster could barely see due to the hypermature cataract!

Buster came in on Monday, September 8th and he spent almost an entire hour with Dr. Baker.  Dr. Baker got out of his chair and asked Buster’s wife to take a seat and look into her own husband’s eyes with the slit lamp as he explained what was going on.  Buster then met Dr. Slade and asked about his retinal detachments, weak zonules and Fuch’s Disease.  Dr. Slade went down his list of concerns answering each one very matter-of-factly (as Dr. Slade always does) and he explained that the risk without cataract surgery would be extremely high due to the fact that his retina specialists would not be able to see his retina because of the cataract.  Buster felt that with all the time Dr. Slade and Dr. Baker spent with him, the personal touch of letting his wife be part of the procedure & decision, the animations they spent time showing him, “I couldn’t believe how calm I made that decision.  I scheduled my surgery for that Wednesday.”

He remembers tripping and falling on the steps going in the morning of his surgery.  “Symbolism” he calls it.  That morning he was told that his entire son’s school set a moment of silence to pray for him at his surgery time.   He sent a text to his parents who were anxiously awaiting him about how he would be alright, but Buster was overwhelmingly calm.  He told the anesthetist “I’m so calm, I don’t need sedatives.”

He went home after his surgery and came back the day after where he remembers seeing blades of grass. Buster was over about 20/400 per Dr. Baker’s measurements before surgery, he was beyond legally blind with a -12.00 prescription in his only “seeing eye”.  The day after surgery, Buster was already at 20/70 vision.  3 weeks later he is at 20/30 without glasses.

This is what some may call a miracle, some may call luck, but what we all need to call it is a SUCCESS and remember the important things that this brings to someone’s life.

Buster said he never saw his son’s face the way he does now.  His own friends that he runs into now look different, it is like they are in high definition.  Many of us will luckily never know what 20/400 vision looks like, but for someone like Buster who lived with it for the majority of his life, a surgery like this is completely life altering.

In interviewing Dr. Baker about this incredible case he shared “A great tribute to the technology & Dr Slade’s talents, experience & expertise.   I’ve worked with Dr Slade for 30 years and Buster is seeing today and will now be able to lead a normal life again because of Dr. Slade.  Steve’s passion for helping develop & implementing new technology along with his surgical talent led Buster on a path to regain his vision.”

We thank Buster for sharing his story and for Dr. Baker’s testimony. We hope that you reading this can share it with someone who may be debating cataract surgery or may be dealing with blurry vision or other serious visual problems.

Drs. Slade and Baker are here to help and if you or a loved one has any visual issues, their individualized, caring approach is always what makes their patients send their family and friends. We are happy to help.

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