Cataract Surgery

Cataract Surgery

I have been luckier than many people since I didn’t need any kind of glasses till I was 50 years old. But by then I started needing some low-powered reading glasses. The inexpensive ones you can get at the drug store worked perfectly well for me for two or three years, but finally there came a point when I needed to get some real, corrective glasses. My far vision was becoming increasingly fuzzy and it couldn’t be ignored any more. I realized it would be easier for me if I got bifocals than to continually switch between the distance glasses and the cheaters. By this time there was no point from far away to up close that was ever in focus. The doctor suggested that I might want to try some continuous bifocals and when I first got them they worked pretty well because the difference in the near/far prescriptions was not too great. As my eyes got worse, that difference grew. In the end I was better off having plain old bifocals. I could see far away with the top part of the lenses and could read with the bottom part, but there came a time when I could not see the computer screen with either of the two. Now I was faced with trifocals or two pairs of glasses. I chose the latter.

A few years ago my doctor, Todd Heying, said I was starting to get glaucoma. A drop of Tamilol Maleate in each eye once a day was enough to retard future deterioration, so we were good there. But when we were walking back to the examination room from another test he does, he said, “We’ll have to keep an eye on those cataracts.” What? There had never been any mention of cataracts before that. Also, around that time I started to get double vision of two different types. The first was an inability to converge both my eyes to get a unified 3D image and the second was a slight shadow to the lower left of whatever I was looking at with my right eye. This is often caused by astigmatism. Both of these seemed to be growing steadily worse. Finally, they became bad enough that I had Karen start to do all the driving.

I got some therapy to strengthen my eye muscles for the convergence problem, but the exercises required that I be able to accurately focus on distance objects. That wouldn’t work for me. It turned out that the cataracts made it so my eyes couldn’t be corrected with lenses. The doctor made an appointment for me with a specialist to look into the cataracts. This doctor’s diagnosis was dismal and it felt like I would be going blind any minute. Dr Heying said he disagreed with that conclusion completely and made another appointment with a different specialist, Dr Birchansky. His diagnosis was more in line with what Doctor Heying thought and we made an appointment to have my cataracts removed.

As the time grew closer I became more and more antsy. Everyone I knew that has had cataract surgery done has assured me that it is a piece of cake and that they were happy they had it done, but I was nervous about someone rooting around in my eyeball with a scalpel.

The day of the surgery on my right eye came, April 27, 2021. The whole business was complicated because of the universal fear of the Covid 19 virus and the added rigmarole that accompanied it. I arrived at the surgery and they started with completing 6 or 7 forms. Then the nurse put a drop of anesthetic in my eye followed by about 6 or 7 drops of a dilating solution. They took me back to a staging/recovery room which I mistook to be the operating room. They put a blood pressure cuff on my right forearm and started a drip of something in my left arm. I thought they would eventually put anesthetic in the drip line to knock me out so I wouldn’t be aware of all the digging in my right eyeball. They put a number of sensors on my chest, for heart monitoring I suppose. They said they were going to leave for a little bit to let the dilation solution work a little more. So they turned off the light, most welcome, and left me with the constant booping and dinging from the vital signs monitor. Underneath all that racket they had some very soft, soothing, new age instrumental music working its magic.

They came back after a while and took me to the operating room. Like most operating rooms it seemed a little cold. Then they spent a bunch of time laying me flat and putting booties, a cap, and another drapery that had an adhesive surface and covered me completely except for a hole that they centered right over my eye. The adhesive wasn’t working all that well with my beard, but they did get that sorted out. They also unobtrusively loosely strapped me down so I couldn’t flail out if I got panicky.
When the doctor came in he got right to business. It turns out they did not knock me out. That didn’t seem to matter however because while I was fully conscious, I couldn’t feel anything on my eye. My field of view was very bright and colorful and reminded me of a 60’s era light show. In the center of it all was a squished looking white hexagon. I could tell he was doing things but I had no idea what they were. After a really short period of time he said, “Well, there you go.” and he was off. The nurses wheeled me back to the recovery room, disentangled me from all the wires and tubes, and got me into a wheel chair to take me out to the car.

Fully dilated, newly decataracted eye

Karen got me home ok. My eye was extremely dilated. They had warned me to bring sun glasses, but the brightness was even beyond that. There were halos around everything and a misty kind of softness. They told me I should expect that and that my vision would get better every day.

After I started seeing properly in my right eye I didn’t need glasses for it at all for my distance vision and I could see better with it than the “corrected” left eye. None of my glasses helped me. The old glasses corrected the eye that wasn’t operated on but the new eye was made blurry from the old lenses. But if I didn’t use the glasses, my left eye was blurry. I still needed glasses to see my computer but did not have a new prescription for my right eye. That made my right eye blurry whenever I was typing and I had to keep it closed. An interesting thing happened with the reading prescription though. My left and right eye didn’t match for my near vision but there was only about two inches difference between where they focused. If I placed whatever I was reading halfway between the two focal distances, I could achieve acceptable focus in both eyes. As time went on, putting my distance glasses on worked pretty well for correcting the computer.

It was 2 weeks between my two operations. By this time it was getting a little tiresome because of the mismatch between the left and the right eyes. And I was really anticipating getting better vision in the second eye.

The procedure was almost exactly the same as the first time, but it took them a little longer to get started. They did say that they put something in the IV drip to help me relax. I suppose they also did that the first time, but I didn’t remember them saying anything then. My fault or theirs, your pick. The dilation seemed to hang on longer on this eye but it eventually did go away.

A week later I had a second followup appointment with Dr Heying. He said he didn’t want to prescribe any new glasses for several weeks to let my eyes heal and adjust as much as possible. We decided that I would get a couple of pairs of reading glasses at the drug store, one for my computer and one for my phone or up close reading. A day or two later I noticed that that was a fairly successful approach. He gave me a useful pointer into which power of glasses to get. He said if I divided the number “1” by the distance in meters from my eye to what I wanted to see clearly, it would tell me the diopter strength of the glasses I would need. So Karen got out the pull tape and came up with 2.25 diopters for my computer glasses and 3.00 diopters to see my phone or read a book. But when we got to the store I was presented with two problems; they were out of stock of both those powers and my eyes still needed a little fine tuning anyway. So by trying on stronger and weaker glasses for each of my calculated focal lengths, I found the right prescriptions eventually, the time honored way that people have always bought “cheaters”.

This post is part of the StoryWorth project that I am participating in.
At the ButchieBoy main page click the “StoryWorth” category to see the rest of the entries.

This entry was posted in Autobiography, Family, StoryWorth. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Cataract Surgery

  1. Linda A Knudsen says:

    I’m really glad you had your eyes done and that you are over the hard part. When I had mine done they had me order specially formulated drops from a company named
    Designer Drugs. I thought that was a hoot!
    I waited a week in between eyes and ended up removing the lens so that my new eye could see and the other eye be corrected. Dorky but it worked.

  2. Little Lisa says:

    Very interesting. I shared your light show anecdote with my co-workers and everyone had a big laugh — everyone could relate!

    I’m just waiting my turn. It’s coming, too.

    Glad it went so well.

  3. Sue Willmott says:

    Gad all went well for you and that you will be able to choose suitable prescription glasses soon. Sue

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *