11 September, 2011

I Can See Clearly Now

This last Wednesday, I went with Doug and Twyla over to Orange Walk Town. It was a three-fold mission. We wanted to visit the Boundary Store - you never know what treasures you might find there. We also wanted to have lunch at Nahil Mayab - I had an outstanding fish burger and fries. And then, our main reason for going, Doug and I both had appointments with Dr. David Hoy of Hoy Eye Center. He and his wife, also an MD, have six clinics throughout Belize.

...Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's gonna be a bright, bright
Sun-Shiny day.
                                                                                                              -- Written by: Johnny Nash

Doug needed to get new glasses and I needed advice on cataract surgery as my right eye was speedily becoming a definite liability.

To give you an example of how bad things had become with my right eye, take a look at the photo below. Left eye, right eye. I think you can tell the difference. Thankfully, both eyes weren't matching. I'd have been functionally blind.
My Left and Right Eyes
We left Corozal about 7:00 AM, Thursday morning, and arrived in Bellize City about 9:20 AM for a 10:00 appointment. Good thing too as the out-bound lanes of a major roundabout were blocked by a reviewing stand and a whole lot of chairs - not to mention the crowd. They were there to introduce the babes who were in the running for Carnival Queen. Carnival in Belize is held in September to coincide with the 'September Celebrations', The Battle for St. Georges Caye Day (now blandly called 'National Day') on September 10, and Independence Day, September 21.

So, anyway, we got to Hoy Eye Center ( with plenty of time to spare. You can see Doug in the waiting area below. They started me off with eye drops fairly soon after we arrived and things progressed from there.
Patiently Waiting In The Waiting Area
Here's a glimpse of the main lobby of the Hoy Eye Center. Quite nice with a good selection of frames.
Hoy Eye Center Lobby
Just off the lobby area is a window where you can see the various machines they use for grinding lenses - with 24-hour turn-around service. Doug got examined on Wednesday in Orange Walk and picked up his glasses in Belize City on Thursday morning. Not bad service.
Lens Grinding Equipment
 Here's a picture I took of Dr. Hoy amongst some of the equipment in his center. He's very personable and caring. I just can't speak highly enough of him and his staff. Very professional all the way around.
Dr. David Hoy, MD Opthamalogist
 Here's a shot I took of the computer screen that shows what the laser took of the inside of my eyeball and the cataract. This gave him the information he needed on where to make the incision to remove the original lens and to insert the replacement.

In conjunction with some other computers, it also gave him the information on how to correct my retinal tearing - the other issue I had going one. Luckily, everything took place in the same eyeball.
My Eyeball According to the Computer
Here's a shot of some of the other equipment in the center. I think this is the one he was looking through for the actual surgery - but, don't quote me on that.
One of the Machines Used On Me
 And yet more computer equipment in the room.
Another of the Machines
Here I am, taking a nap. Not really. I was awake throughout the whole procedure. Although, I will admit, the Valium they had me chew just prior to the operation (the aftertaste of which, reminded me of a martini) did make me a tad more relaxed than I actually thought I was.
Yours Truly Full of Anticipation
After the operation, and paying for it (Would you believe, total cost was $1,900 BZD?), we left immediately, with Doug driving, for the Riverside Tavern, which I've written about extensively here before. And, it was a really, really good thing he was driving too. My vision was much improved in one way, the fog of the cataract was gone, but the medication Dr. Hoy had administered to lock my eyeball wasn't going to fade away for about six more hours. Here's an approximation of what I was seeing with both eyes open.
My Improved and Way Off-Kilter Vision
It didn't matter if I was walking, driving or what, I couldn't do it with both eyes open. Going up and down stairs was a really weird experience.

So, anyway, we got to the Riverside without incident and had a very enjoyable lunch and a few beers. When we left, Doug discovered he didn't have the keys to the Isuzu. Oops. Looking inside, there they were in the ignition.

What to do? Doug trotted inside and asked our waiter if they had a locksmith they could call. The waiter came out and zoomed off on his bicycle returning about three minutes later, saying a mechanic would be along 'right now', as they say.

Sure enough about five minutes later, here comes the mechanic pedaling up on his bike. Using a screwdriver and a short length of wire, after struggling mightily with the door for, oh, about seven seconds, he had the door open. Doug gave him $30.00 BZD and we once again were on our way.

This time to get to the Best Western Biltmore Plaza Hotel (, on the Northern Highway, just across from Brodies.

They have a gorgeous central area, full of local tropical trees and shrubbery, a pool, a nice tiled bar area and an aviary with parakeets.
BW Biltmore Plaza Pool
First thing we did after checking into our room was to take a nap - at least I did. I think Doug went out exploring the hotel. It's surprising how something like eye surgery, no matter how calm you think you're approaching it, jumps up and lets you know you were a lot more keyed up than you thought. So I slept for about three hours.
Their Parakeet Aviary
 After that, we retired to the bar area for a few Belikins and then migrated to the dining room for supper. We both ordered pizza of  all things - which turns out, was some of the best pizza either of us have had in Belize.

Then it was back up to the room and by 8:00 PM, both of us were conked out till the morning.
BW Biltmore Plaza Pool Bar
Oh yes. We stayed overnight in Belize City because Dr. Hoy wanted to see me at 8:00 AM the following day to check out his handiwork and make sure I was doing ok.
Another View of the Pool Bar
By morning, my vision had returned to almost normal. No tilt-o-matic, no foggy business, no floaters either. What a relief and no discomfort at all.
Another View of Their Pool
My eyes were in good enough shape that I felt comfortable driving from the hotel to the center. We didn't even have any incidents.

We got over to the Eye Center about a quarter to eight, just as they were raising the roll-up doors. Doug went over to the ATM at Atlantic Bank and I went on in. By the time he got back, I was all done and ready to roll.

On the way back to Corozal, I asked Doug if he would drive as Dr. Hoy didn't want me to watch TV, read or do any computing (don't tell him about this, alright?) for a few days to lessen the strain on the iris and surrounding area. I even bought an eye patch at Brodies to ensure I rested the eye as much as possible.

Dr. Hoy also gave me three sets of drops which I've been taking religiously several times a day. I have to go back to Orange Walk on Wednesday to see him at the clinic for a follow-up appointment.

Again, I have to say, the whole experience was excellent. I have nothing but praise for Dr. Hoy and his whole team. It was a fun experience, which I'll get to repeat in three or four years as he found a small cataract in my left eye. Hey, something to look forward to, right?

One cool thing, besides getting my vision back again (as if that wasn't cool enough), was the fact that included in the price was a DVD that Dr. Hoy shot through the microscope he was viewing the operaton. I've tried to edit it down, but it wasn't that easy to do. So, what I did was capture a few shots of key points during the procedure for your viewing pleasure.

If you're squeamish, you may want to stop here. If not, or if you're being particularly brave today, head on and scroll down. Don't forget to read the warning message however. Oh, also, the photos may appear upside down... That's because Dr. Hoy was sitting at the top of my head, looking toward my feet, so that's the orientation of the photos. Enjoy.
Read the Warning Statement
Ready to Start
Ready to Make the Incision
Removing the Lens, Cataract and Floaters
More on Removing the Lens, Etc.
Ready to Insert the New Lens
Suturing The Incision
All Done - You Can Barely See the Suture
So, there you have it. Congratulations on making it all the way through. Can you see me smiling now? I'm a happy camper!


Wilma said...

Impressive, Dave! Glad it all turned out so well and with a minimum of fuss. The Hoys seem to have a well-appointed, modern clinic.


Dave Rider said...

Hi Wilma,

It was a very pleasant surprise too. I was very impressed. He's a genuine nice guy as well.


Unknown said...

Congrats Dave, glad its over and done with and was an overall not bad experience. Looked at all of the photos, you have really pretty eye lashes. ;-)

Dave Rider said...

Hi Colleen,

"Why shucks, Ma'am," he said, kicking a sprig of tumbleweed with a dusty boot. "No one's told me that in ages."


JRinSC said...

Good post Dave. I had no idea you've been having vision problems. You don't complain near as much as I do when things go downhill... lol

Glad everything has gone well and you are seeing better. Nice to know you have such a good man down there to handle things like this. I'm just glad it was you and not me!


Dave Rider said...

Hi Julian,

It was actually kinda fun to go through it too. Hard to believe. The best part was, that for the price of a round-trip air ticket, I only had to go as far as Belize City.


Vivien said...

Very cool post and I enjoyed the pictures of the procedure. Nice to see that Belize is also doing state of the art cataract surgery.
I am presently dealing with poor vision (wearing 5 year old glasses)due to the fact that I lost my glasses while trying to float on an air mattress down the Pembina River last Saturday. Finally got into the optometrist today, but it will take 7-10 days to get the new glasses. $779.00 CAD plus $85.00 for the exam.
Maybe I should have headed to Belize to get the new glasses, it is faster and prbably less expensive.

Dave Rider said...

Hi Vivien,
Right around the same time that I had my surgery, Doug had an eye exam by Dr. Hoy and got a new pair of transitions lens glasses. Whole kit and kaboodle cost him about $300 BZD. Hard to beat.
Of course you were wearing an approved PFD while floating, right?

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

It's comforting to know that there is quality eye surgery available here in Belize. We have just moved into Ranchito from Washington State and have been following your blog for some time now. Keep up the good work.

By the way, you posted an entry some time ago about vanilla plants and seeds you had gotten from the Dept of Agriculture I think. Did you have good success growing the plants. We would like to do the same. Can you point us in the right direction.


Mike and Janet McGhee

Dave Rider said...

Hi Mike and Janet,

Thanks for the nice comments. It's great to see some other 'Warshingtonians' down here in paradise. Welcome to the neighborhood.
About the vanilla beans, etc., I think you're thinking of my post about the Vanilla Project ( - you can get vanilla orchids from them to grow.


Anonymous said...

I also has a fantastic experience with Dr. Hoy and family! I was a nightmare patient and they all handled it great. I had to be put under for my 2nd eye since i about lost it while awake being very sensitive to being poked in the eye with a sharp thing.
I could not see at all with my cataracts and now I am typing this about a year later with no glasses at all. Wahooooo.

Mucho Thanks to all at the Hoy Eye Clinic and Dr. David Hoy.

-Noele McLain