Today, by contrast, I have a plain piece of plastic in the right side; no prescription at all. And my eye doctor has just tested that eye as seeing 20/40. I'm very pleased with that measurement. Just one day following cataract surgery and I am seeing better than I have in years; better than before the cataract, I think. My doctor describes it as "a home run."
This, then, is my report to you on cataract surgery. I have a few friends considering similar surgery who look to me as a test-case. I can say, so far, that it's not so bad. The worst part was thinking about it before-hand; the idea that someone will cut open your eye is a little freaky.
Sunday night and Monday morning, thinking about it too much, were odd. But once we got to the outpatient surgery center, things went quickly and were well-organized.
I deal with stress over health issues by taking an interest in the technology and the process. I wanted to know what blood pressure reading the nurse got, and I used the beep-beep of the heart monitor to try to play bio-feedback games while she bustled about. We talked about the best places to have an IV inserted as she placed a needle into a vein on my right hand. And when the nurse-anesthetist came in to give me a minor sedative, I tried to gauge the progress of that drug as it took hold.
To be honest, though, at that point I disappeared from the process and only have a few impressions of the procedure itself.
They tell you before the surgery that it will go like this:
- You get a sedative ("happy juice," someone called it),
- They put you to sleep for a few minutes so they can hit your eye with a local anesthetic and get it fully numbed out,
- They wake you up for the procedure (I assume since you eye needs to be open),
- They brief you and whoever brought you on post-op care and help you into a wheelchair and out the door.
I do recall being sort of awake and under a blue cover of some sort around which there was activity and some talking. I could dimly see some eye-doctor-like equipment through the cover (I assume with my left eye). I remember feeling cool water around my eye as they worked. And I think I remember the doctor saying "we're almost done."
But I really wasn't present for all that. And I am fine with that absence. The doctor assured me today (at a follow-up check) that I didn't reveal any deep dark secrets.
The whole thing took about an hour and a half.
When I got home, I felt good enough to take a self-portrait. My eye was under a shield for a few hours. When I took it off, I found I could see well-enough, though through a film of medications, to watch a little TV, but not for long stretches. My eye was a bit sensitive to light and itched a fair amount.
This morning, when I awoke, the itching was largely gone and the sight from that eye is noticeably better. I drove myself to my follow-up appointment (the post-op instructions say you can drive the ext day if you feel up to it and can see well enough, and if you have a valid driver's license).
I do find it is best if I wear the old-guy style full-coverage sunglasses that they gave me when I drive. I assume the light-sensitivity will ease with time.
I do not expect to know just how well this has worked until early January. The doctors say it takes about a month for the eye to settle in and "accept" the new lens. I have an appointment the first Monday of 2011 to find out what my final prescription will be. If any (he wrote, hopefully).
As a side note, I ran into an older couple at the eye doctor office today who remembered me from yesterday. The wife had also had cataract surgery and her husband remembered Karen and I coming in while he waited. We compared notes and found that we had had very similar experiences.