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Former chip shop owners who have been married for more than 50 years said they were delighted to be a matching pair after undergoing cataract surgery at the same time.   

Mary and Kypros Constantinou, aged 78 and 84, had surgery on their left eyes within minutes of each other at Edgware Community Hospital. This was the couple’s second procedure together after having the same surgery on their right eyes only weeks before. 

Cataract surgery is a day procedure and involves replacing a lens in the eye which has become cloudy.  

The couple, from Enfield, said they wanted to go through the procedure together to ‘help each other’ and the day surgery unit were happy to accommodate them. 

“We really needed our eyes done and we knew it would save the cost of travelling to go to the hospital together,” said Mary. “I told my husband ‘I’ll help you and you help me’. If we did it separately, we would have to go through it twice. We found it easier to go through it together as we could help each other, and it was quicker.” 

Mary said: “I first met my husband in 1968 when I went to the restaurant he worked at with my brother. He was the head chef. In those days, we didn’t go out dating – we just said if we liked someone. We got married three months later. 

“Since then, we have owned a chip shop in East Barnet, a steak house in Enfield Town and now a small cake business together. I’m still working, cleaning and looking after my grandchildren. I don’t like sitting down – I like to be active.” 

The couple, who celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary two weeks ago, have four children and five grandchildren.

Mary added: “My husband is very supportive and always wants to be there for his family. In 2020, he was in Barnet Hospital for two months after catching COVID-19. I thought he was going to die but we listened to his doctor, and he survived. I looked after him for three months at home afterwards. It makes you realise life is short and we have to love each other.” 

Kypros said: “There was one lady on the ward who you couldn’t move away from my bed. She told me ‘I want you to survive’ and I’ll never forget that. I owe my life to those nurses and doctors. After they brought me back from COVID-19, I have full confidence in them for my eye surgery.”

Recalling their previous visit to Edgware Community Hospital, Mary said: “We weren’t nervous at all for our eye surgery as I knew we were in good hands and my husband is a strong character. The staff were brilliant – I'd give them a 100% rating. Everyone was lovely - very happy and very kind.” 

Their first cataract surgery took place in April where Mary and Kypros had the procedure on their right eyes. Mary volunteered to go into theatres first and was closely followed by her husband.  

Couple having cataract surgery together (1).pngAround six weeks later, they have returned for cataract surgery on their left eyes. Each procedure takes around ten minutes and, once complete, they will be able to see out of both eyes straight away. 

“I didn’t feel anything during the surgery. After our first one, we did nothing for four days afterwards to recover, as I’d already planned our dinners so we didn’t have to cook. We can see better already – I can see all my wrinkles, which I couldn’t see before!” Mary said.  

Ophthalmologist Laurence Whitefield performed all four cataract surgeries for the couple.  

He said: “I’ve operated on many husbands and wives on separate occasions but what was unusual in this case is Mr and Mrs Constantinou turned up together and had their surgery one after the other. It’s a lovely thing to be able to do from a doctor’s perspective as it makes it much more personal. Both patients were relaxed, and all the procedures went well.”  

Anne Marie Williams, sister in charge at the day surgery unit, said: “It’s a rare occasion to have a couple go through surgery together. It makes a routine procedure unique, and it was special for the nurses who were taking care of them – it brings smiles to their faces.” 

Cataract surgery is performed to improve eyesight. During the procedure, a 2mm cut is made in the eye and the natural lens is broken into smaller pieces before being removed. A new lens implant is then injected into the eye.  

The Royal Free London operates an ophthalmology service from Edgware Community Hospital, where the majority of the trust’s 3200 cataract surgeries are performed in the eye surgery hub each year.