Cataracts sapped Jan McLeod's confidence and ability to easily do everyday things like read labels or move around without bumping into objects.

Her optometrist referred her to Whanganui Hospital for straightforward surgery that would restore her vision overnight, but the 69-year-old was told she didn't meet the threshold for help.

"To me, 70 is the new 50," the former ballet teacher said. "I don't feel mentally debilitated, but to be physically debilitated actually impacts on your nerve to go and do things."

McLeod has contended with short-sightedness since she was a girl, and in the last couple of years has

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