DUBAI 1 December 2019: A 25-year-old Emirati woman has been given her sight back following a series of specialist procedures at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.
Without her glasses, Maryam could barely count fingers held up three feet from her face, which made navigating the world nearly impossible. Even with her glasses, Maryam had never seen the world clearly. She was both extremely nearsighted and had moderate astigmatism, two conditions that combined to mean there was no single treatment that could correct her vision. Maryam had 25 diopters of myopia and 2 diopters of astigmatism in both eyes, giving her an extremely rare level of visual impairment. Looking to fully correct her vision, Maryam visited Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Eye Institute to explore the options available to leave her glasses behind once and for all.
“My vision has been bad for as long as I can remember. As a child, I was only able to recognize my own face for the first time when I was in the sixth grade using contact lenses. I wanted to experience life as most people do, seeing all the details that make the world such an interesting and vibrant place,” says Maryam.
“Maryam came to us with a prescription that was really on the extreme end of eye conditions. She has very long eyes, and was unable to see well even in eyeglasses. In order to help her, we had to be creative in our approach. We settled on combining two technologies in order to achieve 20/20 vision for her. We started our journey by implanting our highest power intraocular lenses to correct the majority of her prescription. A year or two later, we then performed an advanced form of laser corneal refractive surgery to correct the residual prescription,” says Dr. Brian Armstrong, an ophthalmologist at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.
Maryam’s treatment began with her intraocular lens implants. Carefully placed behind her iris and in front of her eye’s natural lens, these lenses can correct prescriptions of up to -18 of myopia. Following her implants, Maryam’s vision without glasses improved significantly. She then opted to go forward with laser corneal refractive surgery, which resulted in perfect vision in both eyes without glasses.
“The effects of vision correction surgery can be dramatic. These technologies really do provide complete permanent vision correction. It can almost be disorienting for patients as they take in the world in an entirely new way. It’s a great pleasure to watch people adjust to what is almost a new reality,” says Dr. Armstrong.
Following her treatments, Maryam has adjusted to her new eyesight, with her left eye now achieving even better than 20/20 vision, the universally accepted standard for perfect vision.
“This treatment has been like a miracle for me. I can see clearly for the first time in my life. Every day I step out of the house I am shocked at all the details of the world I can see. Every day brings me something new. I am so thankful to Dr Armstrong and the team who helped give me my vision back, and I encourage people to put their vision first and explore all the options available to them,” says Maryam.
The theme of World Sight Day, which took place on October 10, was ‘Vision First!’, stressing the importance of early screening and intervention. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Eye Institute is highlighting vision saving surgery and treatment options available to both adults and children.