Cataract surgery for dummies

Cataract surgery wasn’t on my agenda. My list of things to do had grown considerably. I planned to coast to the end of 2018, ticking off items as I went.

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A trip to the general practitioner for a health certificate so that I could renew my driver’s licence put paid to many of my plans. The State Government made these tests compulsory for everyone over eighty a few years ago. The timing didn’t suit me.

My vision, it seemed, had deteriorated considerably. I’d replaced my glasses a couple of times and wondered why it had become so difficult to read more than a page or two before I got tired and lost interest. According to the optometrist, cataracts on both eyes required surgery to improve my vision.

My ophthalmologist confirmed the diagnosis. Funny how I now claim him as ‘my ophthalmologist’. We’d recently seen him over a few months because John had cataract surgery.

Options for dealing with a cataract

  • Do nothing (and given enough time, go blind)
  • Surgery to remove lens and replace it with a plastic one.

Then came the minor decisions

  • Public or private hospital?
  • Before Christmas or after?
  • One, and see how it goes, and then decide, or book for the first and another a month later?

I’m a reader and a writer. I hate that my senses are deteriorating and want them in optimal condition. Last year it was my hearing, and a spectacular result. Read about that adventure here.

We know that older people with impaired vision are especially likely to fall and injure themselves, to say nothing about the inconvenience of poor sight.

People I spoke to reassured me it was simple, nothing to worry about and the results would be wonderful. In and out in a few hours, dressing off the next day and on with life with renewed vision and vigor.

My previous surgical history.

My last surgery was a tonsillectomy in 1943. My mother left me with strangers the night before. In the morning, the strangers wheeled me to a bright, scary room. Someone grabbed me and held tight while they administered chloroform dripped onto a mask over my face. I fought. When I woke, my throat hurt, blood dribbled from my mouth and I wanted my mother.

In the bed next to me, my little cousin wailed for his mother, too. Obviously, a family job-lot for tonsillectomies that day!

Cataract surgery circa 2018

The surgery took twenty minutes under a light anaesthetic and I was discharged and home before lunch. Within a few days, my vision in that eye was clear. The ophthalmologist has booked surgery for the second eye for next week, and by Christmas my vision will be greatly improved.

Current outlook

In the meantime, one eye sees things bright and clear. The other? The cataract casts a dull, tobacco-colored film over everything. Without spectacles, double vision is a problem.

With the corrected eye, the walls of my beautiful apartment look bright, almost-white. The cushions are startling pink. With the other, the walls appear deep warm cream and the cushions soft apricot. The room needs a little redecorating in the new year!

I open and shut my eyes to enjoy the Disney-like visual effects, not only at home but wherever I find myself. Bright to sepia and back again. My old spectacles no longer work as they should, of course. They work with a different eye from the one I now have.

I’m impatient to be a reader again.

12 thoughts on “Cataract surgery for dummies

  1. I have a friend, mid-60s, who suddenly needed both eyes done this year. She had them done two weeks apart so she be ready for her Japan trip and she’s thrilled to bits worth the results.

    • I’m delighted already with my one clear eye, can’t wait to get the other done. Difficult to believe I didn’t notice the deterioration of my vision apart from an uncharacteristic reluctance to read. Even that was a gradual process.

  2. You are impatient to be a reader … again?? Goodness, I might need to be more careful in any comment I make in future!! Good luck next week – just imagine how lovely the Christmas Tree will look.

    • Thanks Susan. It hasn’t been all that bad, really. And knowing now that it was so tiring to read because of my eyes, and they will be better soon is exciting.

  3. I”m so pleased you had a good outcome Maureen and have more vision to look forward to.

    I have glaucoma and although under control I envisage a day when I will be told I can no longer drive. Last year my optician asked if I was aware I had the start of cataracts.
    By coincidence I was a due a hospital visit with my eye consultant so I asked about it. He said it was far too early to be concerned about those and at this stage it shouldn’t have been mentioned to me.

    For now I will take each day as it comes in the knowledge I am being monitored and what will be will be.

    • Having a diagnosis of glaucoma must be very difficult, Sue. I can’t imagine how that would feel. Well done to sound so philosophical about your life in general. Your blog posts are always entertaining and encouraging. Having your eyes monitored closely is sensible.

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