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Two weeks ago, I was legally blind. Today, I can see well enough to read, write, do household chores, watch a movie, cross the street without having to listen to traffic, and thread a needle without glasses. For me, cataract surgery made the difference.

I have always been more than a little creeped out by the idea of cataract surgery.

When I was about 8 years old, my grandmother had cataract surgery. It didn't go well. Born in the 1890's, my grandmother grew up in an era in which there were certain things you just didn't do around other people, and going to the bathroom was one of them.

The eye surgeons of the 1960's didn't have all the technologies they have today.

My grandmother had to make a relatively long incision around the cornea, take out the old, natural lens, and replace it with a fragile glass lens. After surgery, the patient's head had to be stabilized with sand bags, and absolute bed rest for 2 to 3 days was essential.

My grandmother had the surgery, but she couldn't bring herself to use the toilet aids offered by the hospital. After two days, she finally gathered up her gown and picked up her purse, charged out of her hospital room, hailed a cab, and went home to use the necessary. And she spent the rest of her life blind.

Eager for Cataract Surgery

Fifty years later, I had cataracts myself. I probably have some kind of genes for cataracts, but I never noticed any problem until I had to have maybe 25 CT high-energy CT scans of the head in just a few months. For a long time I had had "eagle eye" 20/8 vision, but over just a few months I started having trouble seeing anything at all.

First I couldn't see the numbers on my cell phone. Then I couldn't see the picture even on a large-screen TV. I couldn't see across the street. I would forget items in my shopping cart at the grocery checkout because I couldn't see them. I didn't realize it, but I couldn't see the color blue. The sky was gray all the time. I thought it was air pollution.

I didn't go to the ophthalmologist, however, until my regularly scheduled appointment. I was told I had cataracts in both eyes, but my insurance wouldn't cover the procedure until I had a policy under the Affordable Care Act. I got the policy last January, but it took until October 2 to get the referral to the surgeon. I was so tired of seeing the world as if it were covered with plastic wrap that I would have had the surgery the same day, but my surgeon didn't have an opening in his schedule for 2 weeks.

An Uncomplicated Surgical Procedure

I have to take not one but two anticoagulants. I have a clotting disorder, and I had to have heart surgery just two months before my eye surgery. Usually eye surgeons want you to wait until it is safe to discontinue the blood thinners, but I had developed glaucoma in one eye, and I was having trouble with lots of daily activities. So my doctor simply told me "We have ways of dealing with bleeding" and I didn't ask what they were. Other than to tell you that they involve needles rather than scalpels, I won't, either--but isn't a needle better than a scalpel?

The anesthesiologist knocked me out so the eye surgeon could inject a numbing agent directly into my eye. I woke up and could see a surgical tool and the most beautiful blue I've ever seen in my life, a shade of sky blue I hadn't seen in a couple of years.

The procedure took about 10 minutes, the surgeon bandaged my eye, I went to the recovery room for a couple of hours, and friends took me home.

Then I went back to the doctor the next morning for the bandages to come off.

Continue reading after recommendations

  • https://nihseniorhealth.gov/cataract/faq/faq13.htmll http://www.utmb.edu/ovs/2012-06-dont-be-afraid-of-cataract-surgery.asp

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