A Cataract? What’s That?

Less than one week ago I had cataract surgery on my right eye, and now I can see distances better than I ever have in life. I wore contact lenses for fifty-six years until I had to remove them six weeks ago to prepare my eyes for this surgery. And my distance vision with contact lenses was far inferior to how I’m seeing now. In a word, I’m thrilled.

A little background about why I needed this surgery: A cataract is a condition of seeing cloudy, blurred and dull images. A cataract also causes sensitivity to light and the appearance of ghost images while driving at night. I had all of the above.

So after watching my cataracts become more acute over the years and my increasing dry eye, my ophthalmologist and I agreed this was the time to have the necessary surgery to correct my impaired vision – accomplished by removing the cataract and inserting a new artificial lens to replace my natural lens, called an intraocular lens (IOL).

I had several options regarding the kind of IOL the eye surgeon would insert:

  • Single Focus (monofocal) IOLs that treat: nearsightedness (myopia) and farsightedness (hyperopia).
  • Multiple Focus (multifocal) IOLs that treat near, intermediate, and distance vision
  • Monovision IOLs that correct near vision in one eye and distance vision in the other.
  • Astigmatism can also be corrected either within the new IOL, glasses worn over the new IOLs, or a relaxing incision procedure done in addition to the cataract operation.

I chose monovision because I was highly successful in wearing contact lenses that corrected one eye for near vision and one for far. I also chose to have the relaxing incision procedure done at the same time my cataract was removed.

I also must say how easy the surgery was. I arrived at the surgery center, filled out forms, and went into a cubby complete with a rolling bed to get ready. The nurse asked me to remove my shoes and put on booties and a hair covering, and then lie down on the bed. She took my vitals, put dilating drops in my eyes and got me ready for an IV. That’s it.

A few minutes later the anesthesiologist came in and said the doctor would give me drops to numb my eye at the time of surgery and that he’d put me out partially so I’d be able to respond if the doctor asked me to move my eye during the procedure. Well, if I was out partially I have no recollection of it. I have no memory of the doctor speaking to me at all during the procedure. All I remember was being wheeled into the surgery room at eleven in the morning and being back in my cubby at half past eleven. The surgery was over and I was fully awake.

A friend also had warned me that I’d have a patch over my eye. The lesson there is don’t listen to a friend. I didn’t have a patch, and I was told I could read and watch television immediately – in fact while I was waiting for my husband to pick me up I sat in a wheel chair in front of the TV. However, I was given a clear plastic eye shield that to wear over my eye the first day or two while I napped or went to sleep for the night – so I wouldn’t scratch or disturb my eye in any way. I also wore a pair of very dark sunglasses until my dilated eye got back to normal – that took about three days after the surgery.

One more thing: I was prescribed a regimen of three kinds eye drops that I had to start instilling the day before surgery and continue four times a day for one week. As of today I am now required to drop only one of the prescriptions, and gradually decrease the dosage from four times a day to once a day over the next four weeks.

I will have surgery for my left eye next week – my bonus for having such a successful first run. Another plus is I no longer have to take my lenses out every night and clean them like I did with contact lenses. My IOLs will be a permanent part of my eyes.

Madeline is the author of Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother’s Memoir of Living with Her Son’s Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide (Dream of Things) and Blue-Collar Women: Trailblazing Women Take on Men-Only Jobs (New Horizon Press). She co-edits The Great American Poetry Show anthology series and wrote the poetry for The Emerging Goddessphotography book. See more at http://www.MadelineSharples.com