Raymond Byrd, a 58-year-old retired grocery store clerk, looks out of the window of his Marietta home, marveling at nature.
“It’s great being able to see the beautiful blue sky and the leaves on the trees blowing in the wind,” Byrd says.
This, however, wasn’t always the case. In recent years, his eyesight was in serious decline. Byrd’s cloudy vision got progressively worse, making him unable to see details. Even dialing a number on his phone became a challenge. Byrd, disabled himself, was caring for his elderly father, and his poor vision only made it more demanding. An eventual diagnosis revealed he had cataracts in both eyes.
Surgery was the next step, but finding a payment solution and scheduling the surgery through various ophthalmology practices early in the pandemic proved difficult. Fortunately, Byrd found an opportunity at Eye Consultants of Atlanta.
Byrd was thrilled to learn he qualified to receive assistance from Operation Saving Sight (OSS), a charitable program of Eye Consultants of Atlanta and the Eye Consultants of Atlanta Foundation. Eligible Georgians in need can receive no-cost cataract eye surgeries from Eye Consultants of Atlanta surgeons and clinic professionals.
Yet the obstacles kept coming. In the spring of 2021, Byrd’s father passed away. Shortly thereafter he scheduled his surgery to take place in June. As the date neared, heart issues found Byrd in the hospital for an extended stay, causing him to miss his cataract surgery.
“It was upsetting, because I didn’t think I was going to get another chance,” Byrd says.
That other chance came when Eye Consultants of Atlanta followed up with Byrd after his hospital stay. They were able to schedule cataract surgery for his right eye in early October.
The surgery was completed successfully by Drs. W. Barry Lee and Tyler Goff. Byrd’s cloudy vision, as well as the figurative cloud above him, went away. Even with just one eye remedied, Byrd says he was shocked by his sudden improved vision and the little things he had been missing.
When attending church, he is now able to see the lyrics of the hymns projected on the big screen. For the first time, he can clearly make out the faces of a couple that had been assisting him during his struggles. And an outing to Ellijay, Georgia meant Byrd could appreciate the vibrant colors of the bountiful apples the small mountain town has to offer.
The significance of this life-changing procedure continues to make an impact on Byrd. As he prepares for the second surgery, he gets emotional when talking about the help he received from Operation Saving Sight and Eye Consultants of Atlanta.
“I’m so grateful for the doctors and their generosity,” he says. “It’s an incredible gift.”