Vision Correction For Individuals With Spinal Cord Injuries
The benefits of refractive surgery for certain groups of people, particularly those with physical disabilities, are obvious. Individuals who are unable to use their arms or hands to handle their glasses or contact lenses who struggle to put contact lenses on their eyes or to keep their glasses from sliding down their nose are well suited to benefit from refractive surgery, like Cataract Eye Surgery.
Eye Surgery for Spinal Cord Injury
There is help for those struggling with spinal cord injuries. A program was launched in 2003 by several refractive surgeons to provide vision correction to spinal cord injured patients who are unable to use their arms or hands to handle eyeglasses or contact lenses. Surgical intervention includes LASIK, SMILE, refractive lens exchange, ICLs, and laser cataract surgery. Volunteer practices provide surgery at no cost to the patient. There is no outside funding or donations; services are funded entirely by individual practices.
For those that need vision surgery, it can be life-changing. “I fell from a horse when I was 14, and broke my neck. It completely severed my spinal cord,” said Liz Roberts, who has been living life as a paraplegic as a result of her spinal cord injury for decades. She added, “I have permanent wrist function, no finger movement and I can move my head and shoulders.”
More recently, Liz’s cataracts had worsened, increasing her need for vision correction and making handling her eyewear even more difficult. Roberts said, “You don’t know how many pairs of glasses I’ve run over because I’ve dropped them and forgot about them.”
Dr. Greg Parkhurst, eye surgeon and founder of Parkhurst NuVision told KENS 5, “It’s actually hard to do some things that we would otherwise consider to be simple, like putting on a pair of glasses or putting in a contact lens.”
Cataracts and Insurance
When Roberts needed cataract surgery, several other eye surgeons declined her as a patient. “They couldn’t assist me to transfer onto the table and I have to be in a lying position.” After being denied by several places WellMed, her insurance provider, called Parkhurst NuVision directly to see if Dr. Parkhurst could help.
Dr. Parkhurst added, “One of the things about patients with spinal cord injuries is that it’s actually difficult to transfer from the chair over to a bed or to put your clothes on or things like that. So it often requires other people to help assist in moving them from the chair over to the bed or the gurney in this case, in the medical facility. So we were able to get several of our nurses and technicians to help physically lift her over onto the gurney.”
Focus on Independence
At Parkhurst NuVision, like many refractive surgeons across the country, they were able to accommodate Roberts by getting her into a bed, and into the surgical suite for her much-needed operation. Dr. Parkhurst said, “What Focus on Independence does, is it actually helps those people by doing a vision correction procedure. So that’s just one less thing that they have to worry about.” Roberts added, “This experience has been life-changing for me. I can see. and I didn’t realize how much I wasn’t seeing for years.”
Parkhurst NuVision participates in the Focus on Independence program, in hopes to help more Spinal Cord patients live more freely, without the need for contacts or glasses. Dr. Parkhurst was happy to be a part of Focus on Independence to provide Liz’s surgery at no cost.