‘Life-changing eye surgery helped me win at Crufts’

Dog handler – who needed FOUR pairs of glasses for daily tasks – fulfils childhood dream following treatment at Freedom Vision

Competitive dog handler Jane Penninck says life-changing cataract surgery helped her achieve her dream of winning at Crufts with her dog Kizzi – just two and a half weeks after her eye operation.

Jane, a 62-year-old retired transport manager from Burntwood, Staffordshire, had struggled with her sight for years. “It started to deteriorate around 15 years ago. It was hard to read small text and distant objects like road signs and people’s faces would sometimes appear blurred,” she explained.

An initial opticians’ appointment revealed Jane had astigmatism – where the cornea or lens becomes misshapen, resulting in distorted or blurred vision – and cataracts starting to form in both eyes.

Jane said: “I was told it was too early to have the cataracts removed, and because my astigmatism would make it difficult for me to wear contact lenses, I ended up with four different pairs of glasses! A pair for reading, one for driving, a pair for computer work, and prescription sunglasses.

“The glasses were useful for everyday tasks – but were a hindrance when I was working on agility and rally events with my dogs – which I’ve done since I was 14 years old. There’s lots of running, jumping, bending down and mud and dust involved in dog handling, so my glasses were forever falling off, steaming up or getting covered in muck. It was impossible to wear them.

“As my vision continued to deteriorate, I struggled to see the numbered markers that I needed to follow round the courses, while competing with Kizzi, my eight-year-old rescue Border Collie. I had to walk each route multiple times before the event to try and memorise it.

“I was constantly looking for my reading glasses to check scores and league tables on my phone too. My failing eyesight was making everything so difficult and stressful.”

Kizzi and Jane were selected to compete in the Inter-Regional Rally event at Crufts in March. “I was thrilled, but apprehensive,” said Jane. “I knew I’d have to get my cataracts treated if I was going to be able to compete to the best of my ability.”

Jane underwent an initial NHS consultation, and was told that while cataract surgery would improve her long sight, she’d still need reading glasses. “I really wanted to give up glasses altogether, if I could.”

Researching her options, Jane found that private treatment would give her a greater choice of lenses, and ensure she was treated ahead of Crufts. “With just months to go until our big day, I was starting to panic. Freedom Vision was recommended, and I can honestly say, from the minute I called them to explain my situation they were utterly brilliant.

“My needs and lifestyle were taken into consideration every step of the way. After multiple tests and scans and an in-depth consultation with my surgeon, specialist toric lenses were ordered to correct my astigmatism once the cataracts were removed, meaning that I’ll never have to wear glasses again, hopefully – for reading or distances.

“I was nervous about the treatment, but everyone made me feel so relaxed and well cared for. I had implicit trust in my surgeon too.

“The first treatment took less than 15 minutes, and recovery was so quick and painless, I was able to pluck my eyebrows in a mirror for the first time in over a decade after just a couple of days!

“And just over two weeks after the operation on my second eye, I was given the all-clear to compete with Kizzi at Crufts – and incredibly, we won.”

Jane and Kizzi were named winners of the Inter-Regional Rally, Level 2, at the prestigious competition. Jane added: “The surgery really did help me fulfil my childhood dream. Being able to see the course clearly made a huge difference to our speed and accuracy.

“Colours are brighter now, my short and long vision are sharp. I still ask my husband Danny if he’s seen my glasses from time to time – then I realise I don’t need them anymore! I feel like I’ve been given a new lease of life.”

Freedom Vision has clinics in Bolton, Belfast, Epsom, Wokingham, Leeds, Southampton, Solihull and Swansea. Its expert team – comprising the UK’s most experienced and reputable consultant ophthalmologists – provides tailored treatment plans designed to accommodate each patient’s unique lifestyle and requirements.

Amie Carter, Patient Liaison Manager at Freedom Vision Solihull, explains: “We’re delighted to hear of Jane and Kizzi’s success at Crufts, and proud to have played our part in helping them get there.

“Jane is typical of our patients – they’re busy and active; once diagnosed they want to sort out their cataracts straight away so they can get on with life.

“Cataracts are common in adults – about 30% of adults aged 65+ will have a cataract that is affecting their vision and requires treatment.

“As Jane experienced, a specialist consultant can advise on a wide range of lenses on offer, from toric lenses that can correct large degrees of astigmatism to multifocals that help with both distance and reading.

“This kind of bespoke service, which can restore vision and even remove reliance on glasses, is a benefit of investing in cataract treatment through a private provider. Recovery time is often quicker too, because the cataracts have been treated earlier– so patients can get back to doing what they love.”

Cataracts Symptoms

You may experience one or more of the following symptoms if you have cataracts:

  • A decrease in vision clarity that can’t be corrected with glasses
  • Colours appear faded or washed out, sometimes with a yellow haze
  • Sensitivity to light, glare, and seeing halos around lights
  • Frequent changes to glasses or contact lens prescriptions

It’s best to see an optician if you think you have cataracts.  They will perform a thorough eye check and will be able to refer you for treatment if needed.

Freedom Vision Solihull is open Monday to Saturday 8am to 6pm. To find out more, including pricing and FAQs, visit www.freedom-vision.co.uk.

About Lisa Baker, Editor, Wellbeing News 4367 Articles
Editor Lisa Baker is passionate about the benefits of a holistic approach to healing. Lisa is a qualified Vibrational Therapist and has qualifications in Auricular Therapy, Massage, Kinesiology, Crystal Healing, Seichem and is a Reiki Master.