Spencer Solves It helps Highlands man regain his eyesight

Man's eyesight restored after life-changing surgery

HIGHLANDS, Texas – Douglas Berry has been a lot of things in his life, a wild rock-n-roll drummer, a carpenter, a maintenance man, and a biker. But the one thing he never dreamed he’d ever be is blind.

“I mean, it was terribly frightening, man. I don’t like not being able to see. I don’t know why, but something happened and I went blind,” Doug said.

It turns out that due to a rapidly accelerating case of cataracts, Doug had gone from perfect eyesight to legally blind in both eyes.

Worse yet, with no health insurance, he couldn’t afford the thousands and thousands of dollars it was going to cost for cataract surgery. And without his eyesight, he couldn’t work.

“I’m a carpenter, man... so I have to be able to see things. My eyes are my tools,” Doug said.

”It was horrible. He couldn’t drive, he couldn’t work, he couldn’t walk without bumping into everything. Things went bad really, really fast,” Denny Berry, Doug’s wife said.

Drowning in debt and desperate, Doug and Denny decided to borrow $5,000 through a bank loan.

Enough to remove cataracts from one of Doug’s eyes, but not both.

Now, more than three years later, Doug’s been told he has to have surgery on that second eye or risk never getting his eyesight back in that eye ever again.

When Doug was told that, he contacted the Spencer Solves It team for help.

“I need some very serious help so I can see again so I can take care of my family and work and pay the bills,” Doug said.

Now, all thanks to the generosity of Dr. Michael Caplan and The Berkeley Eye Center, a doctor and a group of eye professionals who have done charitable surgeries all over the world, are going to get Doug the cataract surgery he desperately needs to restore his sight, absolutely free.

The eyesight-saving project begins with a thorough exam to see just how bad Doug’s left eye is.

”Doug, you’re cataract is so big, we can’t see the back of your eye. So, as long as the rest of the eye is in good shape, the retina, the optic nerve, the rest, then you should be able to regain the vision you once had completely,” said Dr. Caplan.

Now, all Doug can do is the same thing he’s been doing for more than three years... Pray to God this will work.

During Doug’s surgery at the Berkeley Eye Center operating room, Dr. Caplan made an incision and started to break up the cataract with what looked like a tiny drill.

Next, he appeared to be vacuuming away what was left of the mutilated cataract, which is actually the clouded lens of the eye that is being removed, and then he replaces it with a perfectly clear artificial lens.

The surgery lasted 15 minutes. And just one week later, Doug was standing in his front yard talking to KPRC 2 reporter Bill Spencer, saying how clear his vision was.

”I am feeling absolutely amazing and I am so grateful to Berkeley Eye Center and to Dr. Caplan and to you Mr. Bill Spencer. Thank you so much. You’ve given me my life back,” Doug said.

How prevalent are cataracts?

According to the National Eye Institute, more than 24 million Americans over 40 suffer from cataracts, and at age 75 and older, 50% of people will have them in varying degrees of seriousness.

How do you know if you’re developing cataracts?

Dr. Matthew McCauley, an eye surgeon at Berkeley and a doctor who performed surgeries while serving in the United States Army explained the process.

“The early signs of cataracts in patients are sometimes their nighttime vision will start to change. They might have some glare with headlights and street lights, things like that. They may also feel they can’t judge distances as well,” Dr. McCauley said.

About the Author:

Emmy-winning investigative reporter, insanely competitive tennis player, skier, weightlifter, crazy rock & roll drummer (John Bonham is my hero). Husband to Veronica and loving cat father to Bella and Meemo.