From Where I Sit – Here’s Looking At You

My usual contribution to this space was missing last week because I was recovering from cataract surgery. I’ll pause here for a second to allow readers to gasp, ?Oh, no, how could it be in someone so young?? It’s our old friend and fallback explanation for almost anything: heredity.

As I write this on December 3, I’ve now had both eyes done?one week apart. The surgeon did my left, weakest, most nearsighted eye first. For one hellishly long week my poor brain tried to cope with two different-sized images coming into command central for interpretation.

Last week, depending on the circumstances, you could have seen me wearing my old glasses with progressive lenses (with the left lens removed) or a 2.50 strength (for reading) drugstore reader on a cheesy dollar-store cord around my neck or a 1.50 strength (for computer work) drugstore reader on a second cheesy dollar-store cord around my neck or nothing at all.

Saddest of all was that none of the above worked very well. It was also month end, a very reading- and computer/paper-intensive process. By the end of the day my poor eyes were so tired from the strain of the effort that it was all I could do to drive the 50 kilometres home (with my perfect 20/20 distance vision).

This was followed by a pathetic attempt at making supper and a couple of hours spent vegging out watching TV, which surprisingly didn’t hurt my eyes. To protect my eye from accidental bumping or inadvertent rubbing I needed to wear an eye shield to bed.

For two days before surgery and for three weeks after I have been and will be instilling up to three different eye drops four times a day. With consecutive surgeries I’m following this regime for two eyes. Oh, and don’t forget to keep the bottles from each eye separate while You’re at it. How a 75-year-old patient could possibly keep this straight is beyond me because I found it a challenge.

I had a phacoemulsification surgery that removes the affected lens through a small tube after sonic waves have softened it. An artificial intraocular lens is then inserted into the lens capsule inside the eye. This procedure is remarkably quick (ten to 15 minutes), and gruesome when you think about it. Only in horror movies does one contemplate a needle into the eye (to freeze it) and someone cutting into an eyeball.

The success rate is 95 per cent and makes a huge quality of life improvement for countless people. In fact, if you live long enough you will get cataracts. It is truly a miraculous procedure and I’m very grateful for a skilled surgeon with steady hands.

It seems my second eye, done two days ago, has a scratched cornea and is adding a new wrinkle to the process. It seems this sometimes happens when an eye opens and the patch scratches a frozen eye surface. In the meantime, we watch it.

It will be seven weeks until my eyes settle down enough to gauge the correct prescription needed for my new glasses. Only then will I be able to chuck my el cheapo readers and resume my 45-year-old tradition of wearing corrective lenses. The progressives will allow me to read and do mid-distance stuff without looking like a crazy lady or straining my eyes. When the healing is complete I expect to have fewer problems with glare and night driving. Counting down the days will be a good distraction, from where I sit.

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