Losing her vision, Georgia woman gets second chance

Amy Jones'  213-pound "lap dog," Samson keeps them laughing.

"He's about as big as a deer, isn't he," Jones laughs about the Great Dane.

But, it's been a tough couple of years for this Chatsworth, Georgia family.

Their problems began in 2017, when Amy underwent routine cataract surgery to remove the cloudy lens in her left eye and replace it with an artificial one.

She'd always heard the operation was pretty easy.

"From what I understand, when you have a cataract removed, everything is bright and clear, and beautiful," Jones says. "But, that didn't happen."

Because, instead of clearing, her vision in her left eye immediately worsened.

 "I was just seeing a film, a fog," the 56-year old says.  "I could not see my hand in front of my face. I could not see anything with my left eye."

Ophthalmologist Dr. Brian Kim of Professional Eye Associates in Dalton says Jones had an unusual condition that caused weakness in her corneal tissue, clouding her vision. 

"Occasionally, we'll have patients where, once we're in the surgery, we start to realize that the corneal tissue is not stable," Dr. Kim explains. "So, she was one of those people."

The complication threw off Amy's depth perception, and three-dimensional vision.

Simple things, she'd once taken for granted, were suddenly much more difficult.

"I couldn't drive at night, I needed to be home at 5 oclock at night every night," she says.  "I coudn't go to the grocery store by myself, because I would run into people with their buggies. I'd walk right out in front of them."

When Amy's vision didn't improve with time, her Kim realized she would need a cornea transplant, a surgery to replace the weakened tissue on the front of her eye with donated healthy tissue.

But there was a problem.

Amy and her husband are self-employed.

She didn't qualify for Medicaid, and they didn't have the insurance or the savings to cover a costly operation.

It's very expensive," Dr. Kim says.  "I think the tissue itself is about $4,000 to $5,000.  And, because she didn't have insurance, we were in a bind."

Amy was at a loss.

"I was just like, 'How are we going to pay for this, how are we going to do this,'" Jones says.

Dr. Kim turned to The Lighthouse, a non-profit he'd been working with as a volunteer for more than a decade.

The non-profit coordinated with the Georgia Eye Bank to cover the cost of the donated corneal tissue and the transplant surgery.  Jones says the operation worked.

"The day after the transplant, the very next day, I could see the big 'E.'" she says.  "I could see my hand in front of my face. It was a miracle."

Amy Jones says she'd never heard of the Lighthouse. 

Now, she wants to tell everyone about them.

"To have my vision back right now, it's amazing," Jones says.  "It's amazing."