Saturday, April 24, 2021


      Yesterday, I learned I'm going to need cataract surgery this year, "sooner rather than later."  I'm not comfortable with the idea.

      It explains a lot; I have been missing things that are there and occasionally thinking I see motion that's not there.  (Was that a cat?  Nope.)  The other day, Tam walked up while I was cooking and startled me badly when I caught sight of someone in my peripheral vision that looked like a stranger.

      Reading is important to me.  I'm not comfortable with the idea of surgery, especially not on my eyes.  Supposedly, they can do great things now.  While my nearsightedness is not entirely correctable, I am given to understand most of my astigmatism should be.

      That doesn't make it any less frightening.


Blackwing1 said...


I've had severe and chronic uveitis since 2006 which has had some bad effects on the vision in both eye. The cystoidal macular edemas have poked holes in the retina (I don't notice them since the brain sort of "auto-fills" the gaps). To get it under control I've been using a strong steroid in my eyes since then.

A known side effect of long-term steroid eyedrop use is the formation of cataracts, which started in both eyes, getting bad enough to require surgery because of the deterioration of the vision. The lack of good night driving vision was particularly bad.

I had what had always been my non-dominant eye (left) done first, even though the cataract in my right had gotten so bad that I had finally learned to use my left to some degree (massive amblyopia, a whole 'nother story). The operation was done in almost assembly line fashion, with my surgeon lining up all of the patients for different times. They sent me home at 9:00 AM with an eyepatch and instructions to remove it at noon.

I've never had time creep past so slowly.

I was sitting in our back yard on a clear sunny day in the spring when noon arrived. I took off the patch, and tentatively opened my eye. I do not have enough words to describe the change in the world. The sky was the bluest blue I've ever seen; there were a thousand colors of green in the lawn, everything was razor sharp (well, until it was less than 3 feet away) and insect life had returned to the planet. In the past few years I'd never seen an ant. I literally cried with the joy of sight.

When I returned to work (I only took off the day of surgery) there was another amazing difference: my workplace wasn't the horribly dingy brown and and dull place I'd lived with for so long. There were actually colors on the walls, and people wearing every possible tint of clothing; computer screens jumped off of people's desks at me. I'd been looking at life through dirty, yellow-brown filters for so long that I'd forgotten how beautiful even ordinary things could be. I did not realize how much my mental state had been affected by my vision.

I would call it a miracle, but that would be an insult to all of the medical professionals, scientists, technicians, ophthalmologists, nurses, and everyone else who has contributed to the procedures and technology that makes it possible to restore sight to the almost-blind.

I had my dominant eye done about 3 months later, and the taking off of the patch wasn't the same revelation. In fact, my vision was so blurry I panicked and called the surgeon's office. They reassured me, telling me that the first experience was unusual, and that it usually takes a couple of days for the vision to clear up. Sure enough it did, and I've had zero problems.

A few unsolicited recommendations; take 'em for what they're worth.

1. Get the distance-vision lenses. Some people can handle having one eye with distance, and one with the close-up, but I would never have been able to do it. Yes, if you choose this you'll need reading glasses/cheaters for reading and anything closer than about 3 feet from you...I keep a pair on a string around my neck so I don't set them down and lose them. And I don't need glasses for driving!

2. Don't get the "bifocal" or "combination" lenses. Everyone that I've talked to who did had to have revision surgery to have them removed and new single-focus lenses put in.

3. Make sure your surgeon does lots and lots of these operations, and has plenty of experience.

4. Buy a bunch of pairs of really dark non-prescription sunglasses. The world is going to be, quite literally, a much brighter place for you.

I urge you to really look forward to this since it's a very safe operation with a vanishingly small number of negative outcomes.

I hope you don't mind the length of this comment, but I'm very excited for you.

Best Wishes,


RandyGC said...

I feel for you. Good luck with whatever you decide whenever you decide to do it.

Dave said...

I had both eyes done about ten years ago. Like night and day. Better vision than with the original equipment.

Go for it.

Bob said...

Makes a world of difference. Had mine done in 2013, thought I needed new glasses, went in for eye exam doc took one look and said I needed cataract surgery. Elected to have distance lenses installed, don't have to worry about persciption lenses for shooting. Wear bifocals when out and about, so I can read labels in stores. Wore glasses for over fifty years so am used to them.

Bruce said...

I was apprehensive as well, being an avid photographer and reader, especially as I only have one good eye. I started researching artificial eyes but that was unnecessary. Surgery was quick and painless. I went from $700 dollar glasses to $25.00 readers from Walgreens. My anxiety was very real but turned out to be unfounded.

Ritchie said...

And white things will be white again. Let not your heart be troubled.

mostly cajun said...

Had both done last summer, second one two weeks after the first. Essentially painless, first, and almost immediate and definite improvement in vision, second.

Old glasses hit the trash. I use off the shelf readers for close-up, reading, computer monitor, etc. Nothing at all needed for distance.

go for it.

Glenn Kelley said...

Good advise above. One minor negative to the operation is that the eye that was operated on is more susceptive to developing a new cataract if you're in the sun a lot . Sunglasses are a necessity.


Jay said...

I had both eyes done last fall. Went with distance in both eyes. Other choices were one for distance and one for reading or "bifocal" lenses. But since I shoot competitively I need to see front sights at 24-36" away the bifocal would be wrong for both. The fix for shooting is +1.00 cheaters for the range and +2.00 cheaters to read.

For computer work where I have dual screens, I had the optometrist make me glasses with +1 on the top and +2 on the bottom.

My cataracts were not the kind that change colors - more like looking through fogged lenses so I didn't notice color changes. But it was a huge improvement on focus - before the surgery it seemed like my eyes were always "hunting" for a sharp focus and never finding one. Very tiring and terrible eye strain headaches by end of day. And that may be aggravating some of your other medical problems (tired, dizzy could be a side effect - at least partially - I had both as well).

They did my surgery 2 weeks apart and it took about a week for each eye to clear up after the surgery. Their explanation is swelling in the incision flexes the implant and it improves as the swelling goes down. The 3 weeks from surgery on the first eye until swelling was gone on the 2nd sucked, though. During that transition, nothing worked. Walked around for 2 weeks with one lens popped out of my glasses, then 1 more trying to figure out which cheaters worked best (and that kept changing).

rickn8or said...

There's no reason to have any reservations about the surgery, other than it sometimes stings a bit when they start the IV.

I had mine done about fourteen years ago, after a 35 years of glasses, and like the people above, it's really hard to describe the difference. The best part of it was watching my vision (20/450, 20/250) literally get better by the hour.

I went with the far in my dominant eye / near non-dominate eye and I'm pretty happy with it, except sometimes I catch myself typing one-eyed while wearing reading glasses. And I discovered some bumps on the end of my rifles and pistols that makes aiming soo much easier.

In closing, I'd like to say if a whiny five year-old crybaby candy-ass like me says there's nothing to the surgery, then there's nothing to the surgery.

Sean D Sorrentino said...

Both my parents got cataract surgery in the 5-10 years ago timeframe. They both LOVE the results. My mother, who wore glasses her whole life for very serious astigmatism, was so used to glasses that she kept losing her readers when she put them down. She ended up getting "bifocals" that were clear glass up top and readers on the bottom so that she didn't have to take them off.

Both parents said that the surgeries were virtually painless and much much easier to deal with than they'd expected. Between the two of them raving about their results they made me look forward to the day that I'd have to get it.

Lin Barker said...

I"ve had both eyes done and it's a little intimidating but just tell yourself you can get through it, things will be better.

Joe said...

I had cornea transplant surgery and the cataract surgery in 2016. L8ke you I read all of 5he time. I feared the future. On the other hand, without the surgery I couldn’t read at all!

Sometimes there just no optimal options.

David aka True Blue Sam said...

You will get through it OK, just don't let your nerves get the better of you. We have been through many eye surgeries with EJ, Susan's parents, and Susan, and by the time I needed lens implants, it was not intimidating. I was able to relax and enjoy it because I was familiar with the process. I do recommend that you have the incision done by laser if that is available. It is precise and will heal more quickly and with almost no discomfort. Pay attention when the surgeon goes in for your old lens. The vibratory tool shatters your old lens and the visual effect of the lens breaking up is really neat. They clean it out, pop in the new lens and your done! Mas Ayoob had his eyes done a few years back and he asked for experiences on his Backwood Homes blog. The response was huge from his readers. If you can find that you will be encouraged greatly. Good Luck and Best Wishes!

David aka True Blue Sam said...

Here it is!

David aka True Blue Sam said...

And a brief after-action-review:

Robert said...


After multiple surgical procedures on both eyes, I can attest that the cataract thing is a piece of cake. Go for it.