man playing guitar with granddaughter

Viewing the world anew at 81

August 20, 2019 | UCI Health
lavon degraw and her husband jim in yellowstone
Lavon DeGraw and her husband Jim in Yellowstone National Park.

Lavon DeGraw is hitting the trail again. She’s been almost everywhere — Yellowstone National Park, Europe, the South American region of Patagonia. But on a spring trip to the Grand Canyon with her husband, Jim, she brought along some new equipment: a knee replacement and 20/20 vision.

DeGraw, 81, was amazed and thrilled when her cataract surgery, performed last fall by Dr. Sumit “Sam” Garg, medical director of the UCI Health Gavin Herbert Eye Institute (GHEI), resulted in vision that any 20-year-old would be happy to have.

‘Can this be real?’

“I was constantly trying to clear my blurred vision or reaching for a pair of glasses,” she says. “Now I can read a menu, I can read the newspaper without glasses. I keep thinking, ‘Can this be real?’ ”

Before visiting Garg for help with her worsening vision, DeGraw had reached the point where she avoided reading anything in print because the letters were too small.

At least on a computer screen she could magnify the text. Garg told her that she would need cataract replacement surgery on both eyes.

Expert cataract surgery procedure, quick recovery

Each procedure took less than 30 minutes followed by a day or two of recovery. Every step of the way, things went perfectly with Dr. Garg and his team, she says.

The surgical staff members were friendly and precise, making sure they had every detail down correctly.

When she was concerned about some blurriness after the surgery on her second eye, a team member contacted her immediately to explain this was normal and would pass soon. It did.

Next up, knee replacement

Then in January, DeGraw had knee replacement surgery, which also worked out wonderfully, she says. Soon she was able to drive again – without blurry vision.

On their expedition in April to Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon and Sedona, she and Jim marveled at the natural beauty of the rock mesas.

Now they are preparing to leave for Switzerland in September, followed by a trip in 2020 to Italy’s Amalfi Coast and Rome to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary.

Excited about the future

“I feel younger and so excited about what’s next to see and do,” says the self-described nature lover.

Still, nothing is perfect.

“Before I had the surgery, I didn’t have wrinkles,” DeGraw says with a chuckle. “Now I do.”

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