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Cataracts Are Not Just For Old People

Updated on February 18, 2015

My Lens Replacement ID Card

The Details of My ID Card

The ID card was provided to me on the day of my procedure. The card tells authorities the model, the strength, the length, the serial number, the prescription information for my lens replacement. It also lists the date of the procedure, the patient's name and the surgeon's name (both of which I have partially removed due to privacy rights of the surgeon) and the eye with the lens replacement. The card is provided to help in future eye surgeries the eye may or may not need.  On a more dark note, the card also assists in the forensic aspects of identfying an otherwise unidentifiable corpse.  The black stains have come from being in my wallet for the past 17 years.

I Was Only 25 Years Old

Although cataracts are generally associated with older people, there are a few occasions in which a younger person develops a cataract and must endure the surgery to correct the damaged eye. I was only 25 years old when I had my surgery. While cataract surgical procedures are constantly improving, my procedure involved an actual cut and stitches. The surgeon made a small incision above my iris and pulled the eye covering back to expose the lens portion of my eye. The surgeon removed the damaged lens and replaced it with an artificial one. The artificial lens snaps into place using a spring action.

The graphic of my lens replacement shows two hooks, one at the top and one at the bottom. Those hooks are compacted closely to the actual artificial lens for installation. The hooks help hold the artificial lens in place. The surgeon replaced the eye covering and installed about three to five stitches. The stitches were very irritating as they scratched the inside of my eyelid. As with all stitches, these had to be removed after a set period of time. I don't remember the exact length of time I had to endure these stitches.

Before my surgery, my eyesight in the affected eye was 20/100. I still still had to wear glasses after the surgery due to the damage to my retina. The cloudiness (not really another cataract) returned six months after the surgery, probably due to the same damage to my retina. I wear glasses now at age 43. My most recent prescription for glasses also corrects astigmatism (in both eyes). My eyesight in the affected eye is now 20/40 with glasses, which is the best it will ever be.

How Could a 25 Year Old Have a Cataract?

I'm sure some of you are asking yourselves that very question. I can't say how other young people get cataracts, but I can tell you how I got mine.

I was diagnosed with a disease called Toxoplasmosis when I was 22 years old. This disease caused a swelling of my retina which in turn caused my lens to cloud. A cataract is a clouding of the lens. I was given a prescription for an anti-inflamatory to reduce the swelling of the retina before the surgery could be performed. It took three years for the swelling to go down enough to safely operate. I still have a wrinkle in the affected retina which will never go away.

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by the Toxoplasma gondii parasite which is generally found in feline feces. The transfer of this parasite to humans is usually hand to mouth. A person cleans the cat's litterbox before eating a meal without handwashing. Since I had always wash my hands after cleaning my cat's litterbox, the only other explanation is a cat I had once owned used to lick my eyes to wake me up in the mornings. This cat had damaged vocal chords and could not cry. Her only way to communicate with me was through biting or licking.

© 2010 Tammy L


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    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Marisa Wright 6 years ago from Sydney

      Thanks for commenting to let me know about this. My husband developed cataracts at 50, which is very early by normal standards. I knew that some diabetics could develop them even earlier, and there is also such a thing as congenital cataracts, but I didn't know disease could cause them too.

    • Tammy L profile image

      Tammy L 6 years ago from Jacksonville, Texas

      Marisa, as a matter of fact I didn't even know what Toxoplasmosis was until I was diagnosed with it. The doctor didn't even tell me much about what it was. All he said was it's a rare disease carried by cats. I had to research it on the internet to learn more about it.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      When a friend was first diagnosed with MS (multiple sclerosis) fifteen years ago when she was in her early 30s, injections of steroids were thought to be beneficial. It's now known that they do more harm than good because, as happened to you, they caused the fluid in her eyes to swell, resulting in non-age-related cataracts. She, too, had lens replacement surgery (on both eyes), but the swelling remained. Every couple of months, in alternating visits, her doctor would insert a hypodermic needle into one eye or the other and draw off enough fluid to reduce the pressure. Even with glasses, her eyesight wasn't 100% (and never will never be again), and at one point was so bad that she wasn't allowed to drive for 6 months. Recently, the doctor has been using medication - don't remember the specific drug - to keep the swelling at bay.

      Toxoplasmosis, btw, can be transmitted to the fetus during pregnancy. Therefore women who are or may become pregnant should be especially careful around cats or anywhere a cat may have defecated such as a garden, flowerbed, or a children's sandbox.

      "Toxo" can also be contracted by eating raw or partly cooked meat, especially pork, lamb, or venison OR even touching your hands to your mouth after contact with raw or undercooked meat.

    • Tammy L profile image

      Tammy L 6 years ago from Jacksonville, Texas

      Thank you JamaGenee for the details of Toxoplasmosis. The doctor didn't know too much about it so he couldn't tell me that much. I will pray for your friend. :)

    • profile image

      Giselle Maine 6 years ago

      Hi again Tammy! Thank you for sharing. I was very impressed at how matter-of-fact you sounded about all this when it actually must have been pretty scary to go through. I had not known of the connection between Toxoplasmosis and cataracts before.

      Also, I just finished reading your hub about how to put spacers into hubs. It was great to know how you got the really neat effect seen on this page where you separate out your sections nicely with the purple spacers.

    • Tammy L profile image

      Tammy L 6 years ago from Jacksonville, Texas

      Thank you, Giselle. I originally had the thickness of my spacers a little larger than they are now. I just went into PhotoShop and made them thinner. And, yes, I was terrified at the time of my surgery. I've told this story to a different eye doctor every year since then. The place where I normally get my glasses has a revolving door staff of optometrists.

    • gracenotes profile image

      gracenotes 6 years ago from North Texas

      Good work, Tammy. I've written about this subject extensively. I already had one cataract removed at age 58, and also had retinal surgery. I never knew this information about toxoplasmosis.

      By the way, welcome to HubPages.

    • Tammy L profile image

      Tammy L 6 years ago from Jacksonville, Texas

      Thank you gracenotes. I did some research on toxoplasmosis but didn't really find enough to write a hub that could explain it in non scientific terms.

    • profile image

      Kalim 5 years ago

      It,s really sad I had catract digonosed when just 19years old on my right eye I done operation after 5year later I can see better but my vision at night Isnot well but most recently I have digoned catract in my left eye as well so I need to go operation another time I donot know when but my vision getting worse day by day in my left eye so nothing to do

    • profile image

      david anderson 4 years ago

      Hi, I hope things are better for you now? My little one is going to have surgery next week. She is 4 years old and having cataracts removed from her right eye. She also has acute uvitis and juvenile arthritis. She has the benefit of a specialist hospital in Yorkhill but still scared x

    • profile image

      david anderson 4 years ago

      If anyone wants to get in touch my e-mail is x

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