You’ll See The Difference A Cataract Operation Can Make

By Sean Simpson

“You have cataracts.”

That’s what I was told this summer during my vision exam. I thought to myself, “You’re not old enough to have cataracts.” I was wrong, because most of us older than 55 are likely to be diagnosed with cataracts.

My eye doctor asked if my cataracts were affecting my quality of life – mainly reading and driving at night. I gave a big “yes” to both.

Cataracts can cause blurry vision and increase the glare from lights, especially at night. A cataract is a clouding of the lens inside the eye, causing vision loss, which glasses, contacts and LASIK cannot correct.

I had LASIK nearly 20 years ago, so I wasn’t frightened or concerned about the procedure that removes the clouded lens and replaces it with a clear artificial lens. The artificial lens, called an intraocular lens, remains a permanent part of your eye.

The outpatient procedure lasted about 10 minutes, but I was there 90 minutes, including pre-op preparation and post-op recovery.

My eye was dilated, and then I received a local anesthetic to numb my eye. Then came the sedative. I asked for an “elephant-sized” sedative to help me relax.

I don’t remember the high-frequency ultrasound device that breaks up the cloudy lens into small pieces, which are then removed from the eye with suction. Actually, I don’t remember the procedure at all. That’s a great reason why you have to have a driver to get you home.

I was prescribed three medicated eye drops to use several times each day for a few weeks. I also had to wear a clear protective eye shield while sleeping for a week after surgery. It wasn’t a fun pirate eye patch, but it did stop me from rubbing my eye and provided a barrier from my wife’s cats swatting at my face while sleeping.

I also got these really dark post-op sunglasses because you’re more sensitive to light for a few days. The glasses were a weird combo – part Roy Orbison and part Jimmy Houston. I didn’t want to sing or fish, though.

After the procedure, I had some minor discomfort for a few days – just some eye redness, itching and blurred vision. I had cataracts in both eyes, so I scheduled surgery in my other eye two weeks after my first surgery.

During at least the first week of my recovery, it was essential that I avoid strenuous activity, lifting more than 10 pounds, bending and exercising. That meant that for a few weeks I couldn’t change the cat litter, empty the dishwasher or take out the trash.

I sort of wish I had six eyes so I could have had a reprieve for a few more weeks.

As far as surgical procedures go, this was by far the easiest one in my life. Colors seem brighter, and

I’m back to 20/20 vision. Cataract surgery should never be looked at as an obstacle or met with fear and apprehension.