The Power of Sight

A Project Access Tarrant County Patient Story

By Elizabeth Bowers

Katie reading to her children

More than anything, “Katie” wanted to see her children clearly again.

“My eyes were always irritated and red and would burn,” she said. “I would think to myself, ‘What are my children going to do if I cannot see?’”

Without medical insurance or the financial means to seek help for her condition, Katie was at a loss. And to make matters worse, her condition worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, making it even more difficult for her to find assistance.

“We were going through a hard time,” she said. “I did not think receiving the care was going to be possible. I knew I was going to have to stay like that because we could not afford it.”

Kate was also worried about her children. During remote learning, she wasn’t able to see the computer monitor well enough to help her four young children with their schooling.

“My 13-year-old daughter was very scared about getting my condition in the future,” she said. “She would ask me, ‘Am I going to get what you have?’ I would reassure her that she would be okay and not get it, but I did not want her to worry.”

Katie sought care at Community Eye Clinic. The optometrists there diagnosed Katie with bilateral pterygia that had encroached on her eye so severely that a cornea specialist was required to save Katie’s sight. They referred Katie to Project Access and she was connected to Patricia Ple-Plakon, MD, of Cornea Consultants of Texas. Dr. Ple-Plakon agreed that Katie required surgery.

“Dr. Ple-Plakon gave me her full attention,” Katie remembered. “She was so nice and helpful. I tell all of my friends and family that they need a doctor like her. She told me she was going to do everything possible so that I would be okay.”

Dr. Ple-Plakon performed the surgery at Arlington Day Surgery Center, and the impact on Katie quickly became evident.

“I was very nervous, but the nurses made me feel safe and secure,” she said. “I was not in as much pain as I thought it was going to be. I noticed the difference in my eyesight a couple days after my surgery. I feel so much better now. I feel comfortable driving now. I do not have any more problems.”

Post surgery, Katie has been able to do many of the things she missed because of her blurry vision – such as reading to her kids. “My case worker, Diana, was so kind in helping me through the process,” Katie said. “I would like Dr. Ple-Plakon to know that I really appreciate all her help. She is my angel. I would also like to thank Project Access. I hope they continue helping people who truly need help. They can really change a person’s world.”

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