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Cataract Surgery Recovery Unwrapped

Updated on July 4, 2013

- What To Look Forward To When You Can No Longer See

It shocking news when you are told after a routine eye exam that you have cataracts. I was only 51 at the time ad thought cataracts were what old people got. I had no idea. I soon learned what it was all about.

I've had poor eyesight since birth so I was shocked when at a routine eye exam that I had trouble seeing the big E on the chart with my left eye, yet when I was given a perforated eye-piece to look through I could see as normal ( for me anyways) and that clinched it. The lens of my left eye was developing crystals or inclusions that were scattering the light instead of focusing the light on to my retina. The perforated lens allowed me to see as normal through a part of the lens that wasn't affected yet. New technology advances allow early diagnosis and what once was a major surgery is not handled in house with a fifteen minute surgery.

Follow through while I show you what to expect, show you what happened to me and maybe give you some questions to ask your eye doctor.

Photo Credit All other photos in this lens a CC images. Just click on them to see the original.

When You Need Lens - For Whatever

Magna-Flip Clip On Flip Up & Down Reader Magnifiers, Converts Distance Glasses and Sunglasses into Reading and Computer Glasses. +2.00 Power.
Magna-Flip Clip On Flip Up & Down Reader Magnifiers, Converts Distance Glasses and Sunglasses into Reading and Computer Glasses. +2.00 Power.

Depending on the focal length of lenes you get implanted you may need readers to read close yet be able to work a computer without. Having a flip-up pair of readers is an easy solution.

 
Optx 20/20 Alpha Alloy Readers, Metal Readers +150, (Pack of 3)
Optx 20/20 Alpha Alloy Readers, Metal Readers +150, (Pack of 3)

Get several pairs of readers. Better to have them at different places all over the house than to carry them with you all the time.

 

What Is a Cataract

- what are my options

The stereotypical perception of a cataract is the milky white lens but that is not the only type. Mine was not noticeable from looking at the eye itself unless you looked under magnification. The cataracts were scattering the light and making it impossible for me to focus.

Just because you can't see something doesn't mean it is not there. The shocking proof was handed to me when I couldn't see the big 'E' on the chart with my left eye ( right eye covered) yet when I was given a perforated disk to look through I could see normally through some and not very well through others. I was surprised.

So now what?

I had some pictures of my eye taken and lots of measurements that allowed the surgeon to select the right size lenses for my new eyes. I had a few options. Typically the surgeon will select a focal length that allows one to see unaided at a distance so one doesn't require glasses to drive or walk around.

In my case, I work with my hands. I've always wore glasses. So I asked to have a focal length close so I can work with my hands without wearing prescription safety glasses. I still wear glasses to drive and to read but I don't need them to work.

Will I Get Super Powers?

- Will It Cost Six Million Dollars?

Like the Six Million Dollar Man, I did get rebuilt but the price tag was way less. I didn't get super human powers but I could see clearly without glasses for the first time in my life. Before the surgery, if I didn't have my glasses on , I could only see about 15 inches clearly and anything passed 6 feet was just a blur. If I dropped my glasses, it took me quite awhile to find them. Mind you anything six inches in front of my nose was 3 times larger so I had a built in magnifying glass. There are trade offs for everything I guess.

After the surgery I was supposed to have one eye with a close focal length and one eye with a distance focal range. So without glasses I could work with my hands, and still be able to walk around as well. I would need glasses to drive and to read.

Be sure you talk to your doctor before the operation and discuss what you require and what to expect. I didn't get all the answers I needed in hindsight. If I knew the results I would have asked for more clarification.

The Results

I can see better without glasses than ever before but I even after a year I have trouble reading a book for longer than 10 minutes. To be truthful I don't have typical eyes so the result I am living with are rare. It seems I have independent eyes not just one that is dominant.

My eye doctor notes that I see fine out of either eye by themselves. Far better than before the operation (even with glasses on). It is when I have both eyes open that I am having trouble with blurry vision. So having the different focal lengths is confusing the brain I guess. It's confusing my doctor as well so I have an appointment to see a specialist this month. Maybe I'll get the answers and maybe a solution.

I guess is that I should have had the close lens in my dominant eye and the distance lens in the other. Reading would have used the dominant eye in this way. But then again I may have had the trouble I am having reading now with driving if it was the other way around. I count my blessings.

Taking A Closer Look

Unlike the now popular Lasik surgery, that corrects vision by modifying the lens with lasers., cataracts make the lens irreparable. The lens has to be replaced and a simple 15 minute operation is all it takes.

It starts a week before you scheduled surgery with the use of eye drops to clean and disinfect the eye area. The drops follow again after the surgery for a week or two after.

As you see in the picture the crystalline lens sits inside an envelope called the lens cortex. A small round cut is made through cortex and the flap pulled back. The lens is shattered and the pieces removed. A new polymer lens is folded and inserted through the hole, unfolded and centered. The flap of cortex is flipped back and seals itself without the need to use stitches in most cases.

As soon as the local freezing wears off one is able to see fine. It is recommended that you don't drive yourself of course but there is no need to bandage the eye. Al that is required is to wear dark sunglasses for a few hours and that is for comfort more than anything.

A restriction from heavy lifting, showering, and avoiding dusty areas for a week as the eye heals is all the recovery time required. A daily regime of eye drops to keep the eye free of infection is all that it takes.

Do You Have Questions or Comments About Cataracts

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    • Northerntrials profile image
      Author

      Northerntrials 4 years ago

      @Judy Filarecki: I know that feeling. But given the circumstances I face now I would have my old eyes back - I would hold off getting the surgery for as long as I could. Now, I am dealing with something , though not caused by the surgery, but was revealed by it.

      I will just have to deal with it as I always have and learn to compensate for the lack as best I can.

      I know exactly how you feel about the thick lenses distorting your image in photos ... maybe that is why I have such a lack of photos of me. I wish I had one when I had a ZZ-Top beard...almost down to my belly. In my current job I cannot have a beard of any kind.

    • Judy Filarecki profile image

      Judy Filarecki 4 years ago from SW Arizona and Northern New York

      I've had cataracts since I was 25 and had implants put in. I have learned to mentally block out the near vision eye when I don't need it. Sometimes it tries to come back in such as when I'm looking at the priest in church and suddenly, I see two of him. I wish they would have both been the same. I know some doctors are doing that . I still have to wear glasses all the time and it aggravates me because the near-sighted eye has such a thick lens compared to the other one that it makes that eye look smaller than the far-sighted one...not as attractive as if they were both the same size. LOL

    • Northerntrials profile image
      Author

      Northerntrials 4 years ago

      @Ibidii: I do love the story books. We have them on in the truck when we travel. I've been known to slow down to make the trip last longer if the story is a good one. :)

    • profile image

      Ibidii 4 years ago

      I have a similar eye situation with my eyes since birth. I am legally blind in my right eye and almost totally blind in my left eye. I have cataracts growing in both eyes. I will not be able to have the surgery though. Consider getting digital books for free to listen to, that's what I do. If you are in the USA you can get them from your local state talking book library. Look for talking books in google for your area if in the USA. Good luck and congratulations on your purple stars and LOD. Awesome lens! :D

    • marktplaatsshop profile image

      marktplaatsshop 4 years ago

      Congrats on your Purple Star

    • Northerntrials profile image
      Author

      Northerntrials 4 years ago

      @atomicgirl24: Ask as many what if questions as you can...

    • profile image

      atomicgirl24 4 years ago

      This couldn't have been more timely. My father will most likely be getting cataract surgery early next year. He developed them way late, though, in his '80s.

    • Northerntrials profile image
      Author

      Northerntrials 4 years ago

      @Lorelei Cohen: I was expecting cataracts myself, but not this early. My Dad waited until he was in his late sixties... me at 51. Surprise!!!!.

      Laser surgery from what I have seen with a few of my friends is not all its advertised to be. Always ask more questions before anything is done. Questions from more than one source too.

    • Lorelei Cohen profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 4 years ago from Canada

      It seems that almost everyone winds up with cataract surgery as they age. I luckily have not reached that point yet. What I found interesting was that my sister had the laser corrective surgery done on her eyes about 6 years ago. It was supposed to be permanent but last year she had to start wearing glasses again. She was pretty disappointed.