The morning after my second cataract surgery, I stood on the street in front of my retirement center, waiting for a ride to see my eye doctor. Soon a group of residents shot through the entrance on their way to an exercise class. Seeing the pirate’s patch over my right eye, they laughed.
Normally, a bandage of any kind would provoke interest and sympathy among my fellow retirees. Not this time. “We know what you’ve been up to,” one said as the gaggle breezed by. One laggard threw a few words of consolation over her shoulder. “It’s the best surgery anyone can have.”
None of these women, all near my age, wore glasses. Having had cataract surgery, themselves, they were cheerful about my outcome and their teasing gave me needed confidence. I watched them disappear, recalling Shakespeare’s description of the 7 stages of man. (Click) So far, I had experienced 3: young eyes; middle-aged eyes that required glasses, and old eyes that would soon see with youth’s clarity but with greater wisdom.
I won’t pretend I wasn’t afraid of the surgery. No one wants to spend time in a hospital. No one looks forward to having his or her eyeball cut. But, going blind isn’t an option. Having accompanied my mother to her surgery, I knew the procedure took about 15 minutes, and there was no pain afterwards. She suffered blurred vision for a few days and underwent a course of eye drops — 3 different kinds, applied 3 times a day for a few weeks. (Click) I administered the drops for my mother but needed a little practice to succeed with my own. Early attempts left me with cheeks more medicated than my eyes.
Eventually, I’ve come to see distances crisply. To read, however, I’ll need glasses. A prescription will follow, once the surgery’s inflammation disappears and my right eye returns to its normal shape.
If I had any advice to give someone contemplating cataract surgery, I’d encourage him or her to tell the anesthesiologist about any tendency toward motion sickness. That way, the doctor can alter the mix to avoid leaving the patient with discomfort.
Also, know that eye pressure can increase after the surgery. When that happens, the doctor will order a 4th eye drop to counteract the effect.
After both surgeries, I felt a little graininess under my eyelids. That’s the closest I’ve come to feeling uncomfortable. Happily, the drops helped with that.
I’m glad the experience is over, of course. But I’m also glad I went through with both operations. I’ve given new life to my eyes and can see
like a kid again. On this holiday when things are expected to go bump in the night, folks who’ve had cataract surgery won’t be among them.