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Column: Cherish your eyesight as never before

Before dinner tonight, give your spouse a hug; gently rub your hands down their arms as you look into their eyes; notice the color of their eyes — the color of their hair — the hues of the blouse or shirt they are wearing.

Stand at the kitchen window. Take an extra moment and admire the view. Notice the tree and flower blooms in the backyard. If you are fortunate to gaze at a field, orchard or vineyard, admire what God has created and entrusted to your care. Spring is at hand and life is returning to the branches, canes and cordons. Soak in the marvelous sights. The colors are breathtaking this time of year.

If you are fortunate enough to have grandchildren as I am, the next time they come over, turn off the television and have a new book waiting for them. Read along with them. If they are yet too young to read, read it to them. Explain what’s in the pictures and tell them about the animals, characters and color they are seeing. Listen as the words come off the page and through their eyes and into their brain for yet more youthful discoveries.

We live in a world of senses — hearing, smell, sound and sight. And, we take them all for granted. I know I did until last fall when I began losing the sight in my right eye. It began on a Wednesday and by Friday my sight was almost gone, and I did not know why. Monday I learned I had two tears in my retina. The cause? Basically severe nearsightedness.

Five laser/freezing treatments and two major surgeries later, the eyesight has not returned. At least two and maybe four more surgeries are likely with no guarantees that my eyesight will return to anywhere near normal.

When something like this occurs, you start asking questions and poring over the Internet. While torn and detached retinas are uncommon, they are not rare. I have discovered that three friends have experienced the same thing; longtime Kern County, Calif., pest control advisor Vern Crawford; good friend and retired Tulare County, Calif., walnut grower George Noell and Fresno pediatric neurologist and friend Dr. Terry Hutchison. Fortunately, their treatments have been successful, and they have all retained the sights in the affected eyes.

However, they all will never again take their eyesight for granted. Neither will I nor should you.

People become compassionate about things that change their lives. That is me and eyesight. If you begin to see lots of floaters; flashes of light and a dark curtain beginning to cross into your vision, get to the doctor in a hurry. Haste could mean the difference between reversing the damage and losing your eyesight.

One final note. If you walk up to me from my right at a meeting or conference and I ignore you, I apologize. And, if you see me coming down the road in my pickup, get the heck out the way. I am more dangerous than ever. Just kidding — honest.

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