I have worn glasses since I was about 7 years old. And they’ve always been pretty thick and absolutely necessary. For awhile, in high school, and then on and off throughout my adult years, I wore contacts, but with all my sinus problems my eyes dried out so quickly that glasses were usually a more comfortable option. A few years ago presbyopia kicked in and I found that I could look over the top of my glasses to read a menu, the computer screen, etc., but if I wore contacts I needed reading glasses. So I gave up the contacts completely.
About a year and a half ago I got a new eyeglass prescription. I noticed after a few months that it really wasn’t helping, especially in my right eye. We didn’t have health insurance, so I let it go until January when my benefits kicked in at work.
When I explained the situation to my new optometrist, he thought it was because I needed bifocals. So I adapted to new glasses, and it helped, a little. But I noticed that even with my glasses off my eyesight was worse in my right eye than in my left. So back to the optometrist I went.
This time he ran a lot of tests for pressure, fluid buildup and the like. My right eye was now only correctable to 20/40 even with a good prescription. Not bad, but annoying, nonetheless. The optometrist told me the blurriness was “of idiopathic origin” (which means he had no idea what was causing it) and gave me a referral to the ophthalmologist.
It took me six weeks to get seen by the specialist (that’s an HMO for you). By this time I had double vision and could no longer drive at night due to massive halos.
Sitting in the waiting room, I realized that I was the youngest patient there by at least 20 years. When they called me back, a nurse dilated my eyes, then did the standard eye test. Failed, as usual. Next, he handed me an eye-paddle that was covered in holes. When I looked through the holes I was able to see more clearly. Amazing!! I wondered what it meant.
Finally the ophthalmologist came in and told me I had cataracts in both eyes. The left one was not causing problems yet but the right one obviously was. She strongly suggested cataract surgery.
I asked the doctor how I got the cataracts. She said that they could be caused by trauma (none), eye disease (negative) or the normal aging process (I’m only 47). Then she told me sometimes cataracts just happen.
A problem complicating my situation was the already horrible vision in my left eye. I would still have to wear glasses or contacts. The doctor recommended I get a contact for my left eye as that would be easier for my brain to reconcile with the new lens in my right eye. She set me up an appointment with a contact lens fitter for the week before my surgery. We decided to go for monovision, which meant that my right eye would be corrected surgically for distance and my left eye would be corrected through my contact for close work (reading, computer, etc.). Hopefully my brain would be able to switch naturally between the eyes depending on the task.
Surgery took another five weeks to schedule. Prep required antibiotic and steroid eye drops for 3 days before the surgery, then dilating drops the morning of. I waited in the outpatient waiting beds for about an hour while they monitored my vitals, started an i.v. and put in lots and lots of numbing drops. Finally the time came to wheel me into the operating room.
The nurse started some calming meds in the i.v. and draped my face so only my eye was showing. The doctor came in and told me to keep my eye on some colored lights. It was all very surreal and I wondered when the surgery would begin. The doctor said, “Okay, we’re about 50% done. Hang in there.” What? She had been cutting on my eye for 5 minutes and I never even felt it!! The whole surgery only took 10 minutes.
After the surgery it was amazing how well I could see with my right eye. After a couple of days, my brain adjusted to the contact in my left eye and my monovision was working great.
Now I am almost four weeks post surgery. Still on steroid eye drops, but other than that back to normal. I waited to post this until I could take a picture with eye makeup, as the doctor said I couldn’t wear any for the first three weeks (I know it’s vain, but cut me some slack, will you?)