Working with Vision

Fred and Cottage had one goal: to restore his vision.


Who’s afraid of the dark? It’s not just pre-school children. Most people fear the darkness that would come from the loss of their eyesight.


“Preserving your eyesight is one of the most important things you can do,” said Fred Nieves (pictured at right), of Santa Barbara. “If you start to go blind, you’re looking at maybe having to spend the rest of your life in the dark. That’s not something I would want.”


Fred, who is 81, recently experienced the threat of blindness. It came on quite suddenly, he explained.


“First I noticed black dots, and soon my vision was reduced down to a donut shape. Then I went blind in my right eye,” he recalled.


Fred’s ophthalmologist quickly referred him to the Stewart and Louisa MacDougall Eye Center at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where he received surgery to treat retinal detachment.


The Cottage Eye Center is the only hospital-based surgical and diagnostic ophthalmological center on the Central Coast, covering a wide spectrum of eye care, including:
  • posterior vitrectomy for treatment of retinal diseases
  • corneal transplants
  • glaucoma surgery
  • pediatric eye procedures
  • orbital and eyelid surgery
  • treatment of severe eye trauma
  • ocular laser procedures
  • cataract surgery with intraocular lens implant



Blanca was in danger of losing her eyesight completely — until her family found the specialists at Cottage.


  Staffed by doctors, nurses, and technicians dedicated to eye surgery and equipped with the highest level of technology, the center takes on the most complicated cases from around the state.


The Eye Center has been a leader in new technology and procedures in the management of complex eye diseases. It was the second hospital in North America to offer less invasive small gauge retina surgery. And it has a proven record of treating cases that others had claimed were beyond hope.


Blanca H. (at left), from Buellton, is a prime example. At four years old, she lost sight in one eye from an infection that led to a retinal detachment. The disease threatened to rob her vision completely, and her parents were devastated when doctors told them there was nothing more that could be done.


Fortunately, Blanca and her parents found their way to the specialists at the Cottage Eye Center. “We saved her eye,” says Dr. Dante Pieramici, retina specialist, and a partner of California Retina Consultants.


Retina surgery, and specifically those involving retinal detachment, are the majority of the procedures performed at the Cottage Eye Center. The retina is the nervous tissue that lines the back surface of the eye and sends visual images to the brain.


Today, Blanca is a 12-year-old who’s able to attend school right alongside other children who have never had any vision problems.


“Without that interventional surgery, she would have been completely blind,” says Dr. Pieramici. “And her life would have been totally different.”


In Santa Barbara, Fred Nieves is back to his regular routines, now that he has recovered from his surgery and his vision has been restored. He’s returned to his post as a crossing guard in his neighborhood, and he has taken up gardening again.


“It’s marvelous to have my eyesight back,” he says. “I’m so thankful to everyone at the Eye Center for the excellent care I received.”





Read other stories from the Summer 2010 Cottage Magazine here.