Rural Nevada resident has a new lease on life after amazing surgery

Trinity BarkerContributing Writer
Rural Nevada resident has a new lease on life after amazing surgery

Imagine being almost 70 years old and being forced to see the world through glass lenses since childhood. Now imagine having countless eye surgeries throughout your life with seemingly no huge benefits and finally having one, just one, that fixed everything.

Nevada resident David Naughton doesn’t have to imagine it. It’s his reality.

Naughton, 68, has been going to Iowa City for various eye surgeries since 1980 and was going to local, smaller places even before that. He’s seen a large variety of doctors to treat problems such as glaucoma, major headaches due to intense pressure in his eyes (they created little canals in both to solve that one), and cloudy eyes. At the base of it all, it seems, is just one influencing factor: his eyes completely stopped growing during the developmental years of his life. This made them smaller than normal adult eyes, which contributed to the variety of problems.

Being an avid trumpet player with over 60 years of experience, Naughton plays in many different orchestral groups, including the Central Iowa Wind Ensemble. He’s had a variety of different jobs, from selling coins and insurance to master gardening. Over the last few months, however, he hasn’t really been able to do many of the things he loves.

Blurry vision and constant eye strain zapped Naughton’s energy, which kept him from taking care of his yard, organizing his belongings, reading sheet music and many other things.

“I couldn’t trim the bushes, because I couldn’t see the branches!”

The trumpet is a major part of Naughton’s life. His basement is home to more than 20 of the instruments that he is fixing, all in different states of disrepair. Being in so many different orchestras means that having the ability to see sheet music is vital. Fortunately, because of his devotion and countless years of experience, Naughton can play many songs by heart and can improvise the parts he doesn’t know. Still, being unable to read through new songs and play them fast pained him.

Not too long ago his eyes started getting worse, and they continued to deteriorate. Finally, about two months ago, during a checkup in Iowa City, the doctor informed Naughton of a small cataract in his right eye and explained how removing it could potentially help his sight.

A cataract is a condition in which the lens of the eye becomes very hard to see through, resulting in blurred vision.

Naughton was desperate. He chose to receive the surgery and on March 29 his wife, Cecilia, drove him back to Iowa City for the procedure.

For an hour-and-a-half Naughton laid still and conscious, while Dr. Wallace Alward and Dr. Tim Johnson worked to remove the cataract from his eye. When all was done, Naughton had a new eye patch and was full of hope as he and his wife headed home.

For a few days he experienced what being tototally blind is like. The eyepatch, coupled with the extreme lack of vision in his left eye had him feeling his way around his house, giving him an even deeper appreciation of sight.

When the reveal day finally arrived, Naughton was ready. He walked in, sat down and the doctor removed his patch.

“The doctor said ‘blink’ and suddenly everything was so vivid. The colors were so vivid,” he said.

Naughton could actually see the details of the room. A man who, since grade school, experienced the world as a blur could see without glasses. Not only was it a miracle in that aspect, but the fact that it’s not even close to a typical result of cataract surgery adds to it greatly.

Overjoyed, Naughton wrote emails to both Dr. Johnson and Dr. Alward, who responded almost immediately with much excitement and congratulations.

“They know what they are doing down there,” Naughton said.

In the days since the procedure, his life has changed a lot. His energy is higher than it has been in years and he is doing something new every day.

A curious thing that he has discovered is that certain effects of his two strokes and a seizure are actually being overshadowed because of his new sight — something that nobody expected.

Because of his new-found energy, eyesight and all around well-being, Naughton is experiencing things he hasn’t in years. He can sight-read music again and can even read the fine print on his lawnmower’s labels. Mowing is another thing he can do again.

“I look at the paintings on the walls and they are so vivid.”

Living rurally allows for an amazing view of the stars, but before his surgery, Naughton hadn’t seen them in years.

“I went outside to see if I could see the light. It used to take me to the end of my driveway for my eyes to adjust,” he said. But now, “I could see the stars. And there weren’t two moons.”

Naughton now plays new music easily and performs at church often. On May 15, he is playing in a concert at Drake University.

This past Friday, Naughton had a check up in Iowa City. Great news, he said, “20/20 in my right eye!”

The last two years have blessed him with a new set of hearing aids and perfect sight in his right eye, which have resulted in major lifestyle changes. It’s truly an amazing testament to never giving up.