Miscellaneous musings from the perspective of a lefty (both senses) atheist with a warped sense of humor.

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Location: Madison, WI, United States

I am a geek, but I do have some redeeming social skills. I love other people's dogs, cats, and kids. Snow sucks, but I'm willing to put up with it just to live in Madison.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

The Wonders of Cataract Surgery

I had to get new glasses in the summers of 2011, 2012, and 2013, because my eyes kept getting worse. When we hit 2014, it was apparent as early as January and February that my barely-6-month-old prescription was already inadequate. My eyes were going to hell, and doing it faster all the time.

So I signed up for cataract surgery. The plan is to do the right eye first, then the left eye 2 weeks later. This was the week for the right eye.

Monday. Into the clinic at 8:30, check in at pre-op, minor wait, series of eyedrops (4 times, 5 minutes apart, 4 drops at a time, fortunately administered by somebody who knows what she's doing, because I hate eyedrops and I'm bad at them). The first round of drops stings just a tiny bit, but after that, nothing; the drops provide all the anesthesia needed; no shots.

With pupil dilated, eye numb, and a soothing sedative dripping slowly into my vein, I'm wheeled down the hall into the ER, where everybody is bustling briskly, and they're working on my right eye within 10 minutes. I'm completely relaxed. It's completely dark. I don't see anything coming. I don't feel a thing.

About 15 minutes later it's all done and I'm wheeled back to my waiting area. A few post-op instructions, and I'm out the door with a perforated plastic shield taped over the gauze patch on my right eye. My friend Diane, who has driven me to the clinic, is right there to drive me back home again. I think it's about noonish.

I start in on the post-op eyedrops (which I hate, but it's doctor's orders) shortly after returning home. 1 drop of antibiotic + 1 drop of some soothing anti-swelling agent, at 8 AM, noon, 6 PM, and bedtime. I can go off the antibiotic entirely after a week, and dial down the anti-inflammatory to 3, 2, and 1 times per day over the next 3 weeks.

At night I sleep on my back on the couch, where I know from experience that I never roll over and thus won't land face down and push something at my tender eye, even tho I'm still wearing the plastic shield, which I've been finding irritating, because it bulges out from my face and keeps my glasses from settling properly on my nose.

Tuesday. Bright and early, post-op followup with the eye surgeon and small gaggle of helpers, 1 at a time. Eyepatch comes off. Everybody who looks into my right eye says everything is copacetic. The incision is healing all on its own; no stitches had been needed.

I had selected 40 cm as my preferred focal length — the normal distance to the nearest computer monitor — and they were happy to accommodate that preference. Consequently, near vision in the right eye is damn near perfect. I can sit in front of my computer screen with no glasses (but an eyepatch over the left, unoperated-on eye) and — on the day after the operation, still with a little bit of swelling and unaccustomed focal length — everything is crystal clear, certainly better than using only the left eye with the glasses that I last had upgraded only 13 months ago.

I am a happy camper.

The only downside is that the 2 eyes are currently a little confused when they have to work together. I expect that they’ll get used to it after awhile, and it’ll only be for 2 weeks anyhow (what the nurse called the “limbo period”). However, since I sit in front of a computer screen 8-12 hours a day, I just use the right eye for that kind of work and don’t have to worry much about the absence of stereoscopic vision for it.

Wednesday. Out on the road, trying to see with both eyes thru my glasses. Things are fuzzy. My eyes are confused. I close the right eye (the one with the new lens) and it gets clearer. Out of curiosity, I take my glasses off and close my left eye, and things get much clearer. Bear in mind that this is looking at the road thru an eye that's been optimized for a computer screen.

I run into my friend Jim (Diane's husband) at the grocery store. He's only a couple of feet away before I recognize him (still using both eyes thru the glasses, so I don't freak people out with my pirate eyepatch). I am practically giddy with delight. He points out that Diane will be going in for her own cataract operation in a week, and sometime after that we'll need to have a potluck get-together so our friends can see us for the first time in decades without our glasses. It's a deal!

The Future. Left eye gets done on Mon. Oct. 13. They’ll have me go in for new distance-vision glasses in 4 weeks, after both new artificial lenses have had a chance to settle in and get comfy, but I appear to be done for good with glasses for near work.

Yay for modern medical science!