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Dr. Michael J. Endl presents Valentine's Day gifts to Sam and Diane Sansone, who both had cataract surgery together on the holiday. (Photos courtesy of Fichte, Endl & Elmer Eyecare)
Dr. Michael J. Endl presents Valentine's Day gifts to Sam and Diane Sansone, who both had cataract surgery together on the holiday. (Photos courtesy of Fichte, Endl & Elmer Eyecare)

A true vision: Couple has cataract surgeries together on Valentine's Day

Fri, Mar 3rd 2023 11:00 am

Fichte, Endl & Elmer Eyecare uses new surgery technology

By Lauren Zaepfel

Contributing Writer

Married for 63 years, Sam and Diane Sansone celebrated Valentine’s Day in a unique way – getting cataract surgery together.

Sam, 87, and Diane, 83, of Lockport were referred to Dr. Michael J. Endl, partner at Fichte, Endl & Elmer Eyecare and medical director of the surgery center, who performed both of their surgeries at the Ambulatory Surgery Center of Niagara in the Town of Niagara.

“It’s always wonderful to change lives through the gift of sight, but it’s an extra-special treat to deliver that gift on Valentine’s Day to a couple who have been together for over six decades! I’m honored they chose me and trusted me with their eyes,” Endl said.

As for why the couple chose to have the surgery together, Sam said, “I wanted to get mine done with my wife because she was hesitant to get the operation. I figured, if I went too, it would help her be less anxious.”

Indeed, Diane said, “It was less stressful having my husband there. He is always so positive and upbeat.”

Not only did the couple help each other feel more comfortable, but the staff at Fichte, Endl, & Elmer Eyecare did as well.

“The staff was so nice and helpful. They made the entire experience enjoyable, as opposed to scary. They definitely helped soothe our nerves,” Sam said. “We are very happy with the doctors because they are very competent and thorough. They saw us multiple times and made sure all of our questions were answered. The day of surgery, they treated us like royalty.”

Diane added, “They were all so nice. They made it feel festive, instead of being afraid of surgery.”

Kathleen A. Otto, director of marketing at Fichte, Endl & Elmer Eyecare, said when she heard about the Sansones’ “heartfelt story,” she wanted to do something special for them.

“We quickly got together a big bouquet of roses, a heart-shaped box of chocolates and a gift certificate at the Fieldstone Restaurant in Lockport,” Otto said.

When asked why the couple decided to do their procedures on Valentine’s Day, Sam joked, “At our age, that's about as exciting as dates get!”

Since the surgery, the couple’s daughter, Lisa, said both her parents’ vision has “improved a great deal. My mom had one eye done by a different doctor and wasn’t happy with it and didn’t want to get the other one done.”

Currently, Diane said, her vision is “almost perfect.”

Sam, who had the surgery on one eye and plans to do the second one soon, said “the eye that was done has improved dramatically. It has improved all aspects of my life.”

Although there are many cataract surgery providers in Western New York, Otto said there are few who offer laser cataract surgery, which is more exact.

“We were the very first in Western New York to offer it. … We like to be cutting-edge and offer the latest and greatest service to our patients,” she said.

In addition, Otto explained that Fichte, Endl & Elmer Eyecare offers a variety of multifocal lenses that allow patients to see clearly in all ranges, as opposed to some practices that only offer monofocal lenses, which allows patients to see at just one range clearly after surgery.

Overall, she said, “We offer the newest technology in the lens in as well as the newest technology in the procedure to give our patients the best visual outcome. The more tools we have in our toolbox, the better chance we give patients the best result.”

More on Sam and Diane

Diane is originally from Niagara Falls and she met and married Sam, a lifelong resident of Lockport, where they ended up raising their four children.

Sam was an attorney in Lockport and was active with urban renewal in the 1960s. In the 1980s, former Gov. Mario Cuomo appointed him bridge commissioner of the Niagara Falls, New York, and Canadian border bridges.

Diane owned a movie production company called Telesto Production Inc., where she produced films locally for PBS.

“My parents are such a lovely and generous couple, and it is a joy to be around them. I’m fortunate to still have them in my life. I come to town as often as I can and I cherish every moment I have with them,” Lisa said.

Dr. Michael J. Endl presents Valentine’s Day gifts to Sam and Diane Sansone who both had cataract surgery together on the holiday. (Photos courtesy of Fichte, Endl & Elmer Eyecare)

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