Bob Bestler

Cataract surgery has old golfer seeing clearly again


Many, many years ago I failed a flight physical, the next-to-final step toward pilot training.

The reason, I was told by a military doctor, was myopia. He was sympathetic, since I was one of the last in a company of 280 recruits to drop out of the so-called NavCad program.

He said he couldn’t approve me because he feared that at some point I might have trouble seeing distant objects. So that was that.

Over the years, I’ve often wondered about his decision because I had pretty good vision. A few times glasses were recommended; I’d buy them, wear them a few months, then leave them alone in a drawer.

About four years ago things turned serious.

I was having trouble with nighttime driving and, almost as bad in my mind, I could no longer follow the flight of a golf ball — in fact, I could barely see a little white dot soar 150 yards. I was also having more and more trouble reading words on TV.

So I got some glasses and wore them religiously. They worked fine for a while, but now, about four years later, I’m having the same vision problems. This time, cataract surgery was prescribed for my right eye.

A cataract, I learned, means the lens has become cloudy and, in my case, limited my long-range and nighttime vision. It reacts differently with different people.

Several friends I play golf with have undergone cataract surgery and I’ve relied on them to tell me when my ball found a far-off bunker. They all assured me the surgery was painless and very successful. The near-blind could see again.

So on Thursday I went under the knife, aided by a mild sedative, though I was awake through the surgery.

Dr. Richard DeChamplain of Coastal Eye Group in Georgetown replaced a cloudy cataract in my right eye with a clear lens, a procedure that took less than 15 minutes.

For the next few days I’ll be putting eye drops in my eye and enjoying life without glasses. Already I can see a huge difference in my sight. Life is brighter and sharper.

A handout from the medical center said I should refrain from some strenuous activities for a while — swimming, tennis, jogging ... golf.

Golf? Really? I asked the doctor if I could make my Tuesday tee time and was mildly surprised (and delighted) when he told me to go for it.

“Just stay out of the sand,’” he said.

I’m not sure if that was golf advice or medical advice, but just to be sure I’m claiming a medical dispensation from the sand. For one round anyway.


In a column last week, I committed a cardinal journalistic sin in this electronic age. I trusted something I saw on the Internet without further checking and wrote that Gov. Haley opposed oil drilling off the coast of South Carolina.

Several readers corrected me. Haley, in fact, supported off-shore drilling as beneficial to the state’s economy.

It’s a moot issue now, after the Obama administration decided not to open the Southeast Atlantic to oil drilling. The feds cited, in part, strong local opposition from coastal communities, including, of course, Myrtle Beach.

Contact Bob Bestler at