For the past two years, 65-year-old Bacil Putman literally couldn’t
see due to hyper mature cataracts in both eyes. Putman, a United States
Marine Corps veteran, says regaining his eyesight after cataract surgery
allowed him to receive his Christmas present early this year. “My
8-year-old grandson was baptized this weekend, and I was able to see it,”
Putman says, holding back tears.
Putman was referred to Key-Whitman Eye Center by the Dallas VA (Veterans
Affairs) this past June. The journey has been a long and arduous one for
Putnam, who had visited multiple medical facilities and seen several doctors
while seeking eye care.
Vision loss curtails independence, increases health risks
Prior to losing his vision, Putman enjoyed hunting with his family, cooking
and staying active walking and playing with his grandkids. He also relied
on his vision to help manage his diabetes after being diagnosed with the
disease in 2000. Along with staying active, Putman needed to see so he
could monitor his blood sugar and inject the correct amount of insulin
As his vision worsened, Putman’s life became more and more challenging.
“The only thing I could do, really, was listen to music or turn
on the TV and listen. I couldn’t take a walk, because I couldn’t
see anything except the shadow of my hand in front of my face. My doctor
at the VA had to change my insulin to be the same dose, because I couldn’t
even see to load my syringe and take my insulin shots.”
Putman’s daughter helped load his syringes, organized other medications
and brought meals to his home because cooking became difficult, too. “I’m
an independent guy, and I liked to cook for myself and my family. My kids
loved it because I used to cook on the grill or with the smoker. Because
I couldn’t see, I ended up with burnt pancakes and hard, fried eggs,
and I don’t like hard, fried eggs,” Putman says.
Cataract surgery offers the gift of sight and returns simple joys
Cataracts occur naturally as people age, but may also be caused by trauma,
some medications, smoking, diabetes and prolonged exposure to ultraviolet
light. Over time the focusing lens of the eye behind the pupil becomes
progressively cloudier, which makes it difficult or impossible to see.
Once the lens is damaged, there is no way to make it clear again, however
a cataract surgeon can replace it with an artificial lens, which is what
occurs during cataract surgery.
Cataract surgery not only helps people regain their vision, it may offer
other significant benefits. Recent studies indicate that older adults
who regain their eyesight after cataract surgery don’t just see
better, they may also live longer and can experience slower decline in
Due to the severity and thickness of Putman’s cataracts, the Key-Whitman
team sent the veteran to a retina specialist for clearance prior to proceeding
with the cataract surgeries. With the specialist’s approval, Putman
returned to Key-Whitman where cataract surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Whitman performed
traditional cataract surgery on both eyes, the first on July 16 and the
second on July 30.
Putman says, “When my daughter and I left Key-Whitman, I started
reading every billboard on the way home. I was so excited to see again.
Now I’m like a kid in a candy store.” Throughout the month
of August, his eyes continued to heal and by August 20, Putman could see
20/20 in both eyes without glasses.
Holiday time is for healthy walks, grandkids and Cajun smoked turkey
After cataract surgery, Putman resumed the neighborhood walks he had curtailed
due to safety concerns. When he couldn’t see, he was in danger of
being hit by a car, and at one point he even injured himself falling into
a hole. With his vision restored, Putman now walks 45-plus minutes a day
and has lost much of the weight he gained when he couldn’t see.
Exercise is critical for people battling diabetes.
Along with regaining the gift of sight, losing weight and experiencing
his grandson’s baptism with 20/20 vision, Putman has more plans
for the holiday season. He’s also excited to spend more time “getting
in trouble, wrestling and playing baseball with my grandkids again. My
grandson said ‘we can go back to playing baseball, and you can catch
the ball, so you won’t get hit,’” Putman jokes. And
now that he’s able to cook again, his family can also look forward
to his signature Cajun smoked turkey at their holiday feast.