Thursday, February 5, 2009

Chapter 3: FF’s first day of clear sight without glasses

My Fearless Friend is having the cataract removed from his second eye today. Here are some thoughts he sent yesterday as he prepares for the surgical procedure.

Regular readers of GiM’s blog will recall that he and I both had medical procedures at roughly the same time. My good friend, GiM (the OLE GATORDUDE), thought that it might be fun to share our respective experiences. His procedure was much more serious than mine, although both are considered routine and low risk these days. This is the third description of my treatment, a procedure that has stretched over two weeks, and I’ll have some closing thoughts next week.

My situation was the formation of cataracts in both eyes. Actually I had a cataract in my left eye for a couple of years. Doctors prefer very nearsighted people to wait for both eyes to form a cataract as they have a much better outcome when they can change both eyes in the same time frame. By doing them together, actually 2 weeks apart, they can balance the vision.

I should add here that in addition to removing and replacing the lens in the eye, they can correct vision at the same time with a lens that is made to focus the image on the retina properly giving near 20/20 vision. As I have been very nearsighted most of my life, this was good news for me.

My work was done at the Maine Eye Center in Portland Maine, a large practice specializing in treatment of eye problems. My experience with the Maine Eye Center has been outstanding. Although I will not share the name of my doctor/surgeon here, I would be happy to recommend him to anyone who asks. The staff, including the surgeon, all gave me the impression that I was the only person that they treated all day even though dozens of patients go through their doors daily.

This lens is called an intraocular lens implant (IOL). The Maine Eye Center has an excellent web site that explains this procedure. In short it replaces the hardened and yellowed lens in your eye with a new lens that is clear and also corrects your vision. Like any implant the lens has a model number and serial number. The patient receives a card with the pertinent information as you would with any implant.

I’ve had some interesting experiences in the last two weeks. Remember that I suffered from nearsightedness for most of my life and have worn glasses for about 60 years. Now, with the left eye corrected to 20/20 and my right eye still nearsighted and with a cataract, somewhere in the area of 20/300 or worse the fun began.

For the first couple of days I thought that I would just take the left lens out of my old glasses and let my right eye live happily with its lens for a couple of weeks and the “new and improved” left eye could do its thing without assistance. After all it checked out 20/20! What a great idea!

The doctor had told me that probably would not work well as I would see double. This was reinforced by one of the technicians. Anyone that knows me knows that I am going to try it and I did. It worked great after I adjusted the old glasses --- worked great as long as I looked straight ahead and did not move! Any movement and I saw in double vision. Not only double vision but also any movement and the double vision danced all over the place. I guess that the folks at the Eye Center know what they are talking about.

So, I gave up on that idea and just went without glasses and let the new 20/20 left eye do the work and the half blind, cataract infested right eye do whatever it could. This actually worked out quite nicely up to a point. I had to pick up some reading glasses in order to read and use my computer.

The doctor had already told me that I could drive, and although I really did not have anywhere to go, I did ride up and down my street just to be sure that I felt comfortable. After a couple of days my right eye seemed to decide that it could and should help out. It was particularly noticeable when I saw colored lights. By blinking or winking that eye I could make the effect go away, but it was not a pleasant feeling.

As I waited for the 2nd operation to correct that eye, it became obvious that my eyes were trying to develop a new “normal.” I only tried to drive at night a couple of times and lighted, especially colored, signs and traffic lights created a very different view. Although I never felt that I was not in control, I decided that I didn’t have to drive at night.

Viewing just about everything, especially bright snow, my “new” eye showed it bright and white. My still uncorrected eye shows everything with a brown haze. It also was interesting, to me, that my uncorrected right eye suffered much more eye strain than the surgically repaired eye.

This is where I stand today. I am looking forward to getting the other eye done today and I’ll have some final comments sometime next week.


Edited at 3:15 PM by GiM: I have received an e-mail from FF who tells us his second cataract operation has been completed. As best as he can tell in this short time, he says he believes it was a complete success.

1 comment:

GiM said...

Hey! Old buddy! We're with you today, even though not physically. We know you second eye will go as well as your first.