Cataracts- a common disease of the eye
I don’t know how long I had cataracts in both eyes but I was told that they had probably been there for several years. In fact I did not know what they were. I also wondered why the several optometrists that had prescribed glasses for me did not diagnose the cataracts. I had trouble finding work but was working at a community college as a janitor at the time. The cataracts interfered with driving at night, which made it very hard to get to work.
What is a Cataract?
A cataract is the clouding, which develops in the crystalline lens of the eye or in its envelope, which can be slight or completely opaque. They develop gradually and in my case it might have been ten years from the time they first developed until diagnosed.
There are different kinds of cataracts. Senile cataract is the kind that would usually strike older people. It is characterized by initial opacity in the lens. The lens shrinks and transparency is lost. The cataract cortex liquefies and forms a milky white fluid in a Morgagnian, which is a hyper mature senile cataract.
In younger people the cataract tends to be congenital or hereditary. Or from systemic disease such as diabetes.
Cataracts brought on by aging and most persons over sixty experience some degree of opacity. Such things as injuries to the eye, ultraviolet light, x-rays, nuclear radiation, inflammatory disease or toxic substances may also cause cataracts.
ome complications that arise after surgery is detached retina, endophthalmitis, posterior capsular opification. In my case a detached retinue occurred after some sort of inflammation in the eye a few days after surgery. For that reason I put off having the cataract removed from my other eye for several years. By that time procedures had improved considerably.
Surgery and treatment
The most common treatment is surgery in advanced cases of cataracts. In this procedure the lens is removed and replaced by an artificial lens implant. In most cases vision is restored satisfactorily.
Over the years since I had my first surgery there has been amazing advances in this surgery. It used to be necessary to be hospitalized for several days and the patient could not move at all Even brushing teeth was not allowed in fear of causing damage before healing. Now it is a short procedure and the patient often can go home the same day or a day later.
I think it is mandatory most places for optometrists to screen for such eye diseases so that most people should now catch this at an early stage. If you have doubts ask to see an ophthalmologist who is a medical doctor specializing in eye diseases.
If you see “halos” around streetlights it might be a symptom and would be worth checking out.
Impact on life and work
One of the problems with being visually impaired is that it is not visible to other people. I am sometimes amused that when people find you have visual problems they talk louder to you. Puzzling? . To a prospective employer you are handicapped and therefore not as efficient as some other prospect. At the same time you do not fall into one of the “protected groups” that get special consideration. If you are actually officially blind then you fall into the officially “handicapped” group and are eligible for training and job preferences. But in a case like mine, I was not actually blind because they say it is curable, in theory at least.
Night driving had been a problem for many years. When I got the improved surgery on my other eye and an implant. The driving situation improved although I always had problems with the contact lens in the other eye. The doctors declined an implant on the first eye because of the trauma to it. It wasn’t until after I retired that I was able to get soft extended wear contacts for that eye that work pretty well and my vision is about as good as it ever was.
In the years when my vision was being lost certain skills suffered. One of these was photography. Not knowing that it was my own eye that could not focus, I kept trying to focus my camera with discouraging results. My enthusiasm for photography suffered as a result. I am now trying to renew that interest.
An Amusing Story
When I went to work for the government as a Quality Assurance Specialist I had to fill out a form, which asked if you had any conditions that affected your life, amend ability to do things that you would normally do. I described the cataract situation as best I could.
These forms come down to our supervisors to review along with other information about us. My supervisor asked me about it and again I explained as best I could.
Sometime later I was called into the division chiefs office and he told me that my supervisor said that I was legally blind. I later found out that legal blindness rules vary from state to state, so maybe I would have been.
Anyhow, the story got around and I became known as the” Blind Inspector.”
© 2010 Don A. Hoglund