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.
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.
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.