March 18, 2011

Ahem, I can see Batanes clearly

After cataract surgery, Dr. Robert Ang 
of Asian Eye Institute checks on my eyes. 
Photo by Jay Casiano

The gift of sight is immensely precious. It is a great delight to see the world with clear eyes, especially Batanes where I conduct a hands-on photoworkshop on portraiture, fashion, naturescape, architectural and macro photography every summer from February to May. Thanks to modern cataract surgery, which I had recently, I count myself among those blessed with this delight. To see everything so clearly, back to 20/20 vision. 

I was experiencing cloudy vision and changes in color perception. These made me anxious precisely because my eyes are the tools of my profession which is photography. 

But I lived with it, telling myself it was normal and inevitable. I was wearing glasses since I was 45, and I got used to it. It had been many years of using glasses for both long and short distances, so what’s a few years more. Even my diving mask was made to order to fit my vision, because I needed it to take underwater photographs. 

Then one day it hit me. I was at the front seat of my car having difficulty reading a text message, when my friend Eggie, who was 84, read the text out loud from where she was seated at the back of the car - without glasses! I asked, what did she do to her eyes to be able to do that? Her answer: cataract surgery. 

Apparently, as people advance in age, they encounter problems with their vision, such as cataract. It is a disease wherein the natural lens of the eye becomes cloudy. The typical symptoms of cataract are cloudy vision, difficulty perceiving colors, and nighttime glare. The common causes of cataract are advancing age, diabetes, steroid use or trauma. Cataracts cannot be treated with eye drops or medicines. The only treatment is cataract surgery.

It took two years for me to gather guts and decide in favor of surgery. I was scared a glitch may occur during operation, and there goes my profession. It also helped that I was bothered by the thought that my 84-year-old friend could do things I couldn’t. I decided to have the surgery at Asian Eye Institute in Phinma Building, Rockwell.

The personal care, technical screening, and clear and patient explanations were such that when it was time for surgery, I was not scared. I trusted my surgeon Dr. Robert Ang and the staff, and I surrendered all my fears to God. I was given a choice of different lenses (to replace my cloudy lens).

Dr. Ang recommended special lens most suitable for a photographer like me. It was an easy operation; I was sedated and unconscious, and felt no pain. That was fifteen minutes per eye with three weeks interval. I recovered quickly, and just the next day after the first eye operation I could already see better than I had in years. 
I believe photography is a God given gift. It is awesome how I encounter my Creator, the greatest artist of all, each time I shoot nature in all its splendor especially in Batanes. I would never want to lose the magnificence of it all, the thrill… the passion. After surgery, I am a new person, looking at the world with a new pair of eyes, another amazing gift from the Highest Power. Now, I don’t wear eyeglasses anymore and I’m back to reading voraciously. Everything looks sharp and colors are truly vibrant around me. Is that not wonderful?

Cataract surgery is really life-changing in a very dramatic way, I guess, not only for photographers like me, but for anyone whatever profession one is in, whatever one’s social class may be, no matter what lifestyle. As for me-- a chronicler, adventurer and explorer who discovers nature, mankind and circumstances to share and show the world in images with my Nikon camera--  I am excited with my new vision, as I turn moments and memories into pieces of history.

Mandy Navasero Batanes Photo Safari began on Feb. 18-21 and 25-28. Ongoing Mar. 12-15, 18-21 and 25-28. Resumes on April 1-4 and 19-24 (Holy Week includes an overnight in exotic Itbayat) and May 6-9. Email . Call 8991767 or send text message to 09152200104. Visit her studio at Rm. 227, LRI Design Plaza, 210 Nicanor Garcia St. (formerly Reposo), Bel Air II, Makati City.

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