Got Cataracts?

I was having vision issues at last year’s exam.  My prescription was not getting the job done.  Bifocals were fine, but reading across the room was practically impossible.  It was also difficult for street signs and other things.  Doc gave me a stronger prescription, but also reminded me as he had been doing for several years that I had cataracts.  The lady who orders the glasses told me the prescription change was so insignificant that it would not noticeably improve my vision.  The problem she said is the cataracts.  Doc already told me that cataract surgery was totally my decision.  Not particularly excited about someone poking around in my eye with a sharp object, I decided to reassess after my next exam.

Over the next year, reading at a distance was near impossible.  Fuzzy vision was becoming my norm.  Night driving was dangerous.  Lights from oncoming traffic that used to be an annoying glare was now a vision obliterating glare.  Think of turning on the high beams while driving in thick fog and you will come close to what I experienced.  It simply was not safe.

When the next exam rolled around the Doc and I discussed cataracts.  He told me again there is never a time when one must have cataract surgery.  It comes down to a quality of life decision.  He did tell me that the cataracts were doing what cataracts do – getting worse.  The one in my left eye even had a cloudy spot.  I decided to have the surgery.

There are two types of lenses, monofocal and multifocal, and just as many opinions on for whom which is best.  One major aspect to consider is that most insurance will pay for the monofocal, but not the multifocal which is considered a premium lense.  With the multifocal, also comes the surgeon’s fee.  The monofocal will correct the distance vision, but leave you needing reading glasses.  The multifocal corrects all ranges of vision including, in many cases, eliminating the need for reading glasses.

After reading everything I could find, beyond what the Doc gave me, I decided to get the multifocal lenses.  Probably the biggest reason for me was I did not want to tote around reading glasses or have bifocals so I could read the dashboard while driving.

Doc said the medical standard is to do one eye at a time and he suggested the left first as it appeared to be in the worst shape.  The prep for cataract surgery is much longer than the actual surgery.  After about an hour or so, I was wheeled into the operating room and about 10 minutes after the Doc walked in I was wheeled out.  The prep consists of the standard paperwork and an IV in case they need it and a place for the anesthesiologist to squirt the la-la juice although I was wide awake for the entire process.  They also filed my eyes with what feels like gallons of eye drops and this continued in the operating room where they scrubbed my eye for surgery and put in a lot of numbing drops.

The eye had so much dilating drops put in that remained dilated for the most part of two days.  I left the hospital with three different drops to use three or four times a day until they were gone – around three weeks worth.

So was it worth it?  On the day of surgery, while still dilated I started to question the decision.  However, the spectacular halos disappeared as my pupils returned to normal.  Having one eye done at a time let me make an assessment almost immediately.  The first thing I noticed was how much brighter and colorful everything is.  By covering one eye at a time, I discovered that I had been seeing the world through a dull yellow hue.  The walls in my house looked white rather than off white.  Colors changed causing me to push some shirts to the back of the closet because they were just too doggoned bright.  High definition television actually looked like it.  I could trim my whiskers without bifocals or the magnifying mirror.  Since I had been wearing glasses for near twenty years I discovered that I actually have eyebrows, and crow’s feet, and…. .

There are some issues with sunlight, so I need to don the Ray Bans when venturing out.  There are also some issues with halos around lights at night, but unlike the glare from cataracts I can still see.  For me, the light issues are a fair tradeoff to discarding glasses.

Both eyes are done now.  I can read without glasses in most cases.  If the lighting is poor, or the print is light such as white letters on a colored background I may need the reading glasses.  I have no issues with any range of vision.   The new lenses do seem to pick up the fluttering light of fluorescent bulbs and computer screens, but it is not a big deal.

For me, I will take the multifocal intraocular lenses (IOL) to glasses any day.

© 2017 J. D. Pendry