Harrogate mum diagnosed with 'early cataracts' says the surgery gave her a business idea

A Harrogate mum was left shocked when she was diagnosed with cataracts at just 39 years old, but now she says the surgery has changed her life.

Harrogate mum diagnosed with 'early cataracts' says the surgery gave her a business idea

Monalisa Fathima had been suffering with severe glare on sunny days and when looking at bright lights, to the extent that she did not feel safe to drive.

A consultation with her local optician led them to diagnose her with cataract, a condition often associated with older generations.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

At just 39, she was surprised at the diagnosis and said her vision worsened over the next year.

She said: “I always considered myself to have excellent vision, and when it started to deteriorate I thought it was because I spend a lot of time staring into a screen as a full time student – I had not even considered I would have a cataract.

“It turns out it is hereditary, as my mother had the same. However, back then, she did not want surgery as she was scared and had five children to care for, so she battled on for 15-20 years with poor vision.

"It just got worse and worse, to the point when, in her 50s, we had to introduce who we were when we approached her, she could not see us well enough."

Monalisa said that when her mother did have surgery her life was transformed.

She added: "Of course, she regretted not doing it years before.

“I was determined not to be like her, so as soon as I knew I also had cataracts, even though I am only in my 30s, I booked in for surgery."

Post-op, Monalisa says the decision to have the surgery has changed her life and even given her a new business idea.

She said: "Instantly the glare has gone, it is fantastic. And colours are now screaming out at me, paintings and things I have had for years are all so much sharper”

Part of the post-op advice given to Monalisa for the days and weeks following surgery on both her eyes, was to avoid unnecessary bending– in order to not put extra pressure on the recovering eye.

For the weeks after her operation, Monalisa said the advice given to her stopped her from cooking and so she and her son relied on supermarket ready meals for some time.

Monalisa said: “As long as I can remember I have wanted to work with food and in the food industry as I am really passionate about cooking really tasty and healthy food.

"After my op, I realised there was a need in the market for some really high quality, gluten-free South Indian ready meals that is not currently being met.

"I am so excited by this, I have already sourced premises and am liaising with the council to set up my business – so not only has my surgery at Optegra given me new eyes it has prompted me to decide on my new business, I am so excited!”

Oliver Backhouse, ophthalmic surgeon at Bradford-based Optegra Eye Hospital Yorkshire, treated Monalisa.

He said: “We timed Monalisa’s treatment for early this year when she had completed her studies, and as she knows from her mother’s experience, if you do not treat cataract, the symptoms and vision quality decreases over the years.

“Cataract surgery is one of the most common procedures in the UK, and technologies have advanced so greatly, it is quick, painless and has fantastic outcomes.”