For many years I have been hearing reports from my friends about the ease with which they have coped with cataract operations. For some reason or other no-one had suggested to me that it may be time for me to undergo the procedure. And, then it happened!
Lost Driver’s Licence
I recently had new glasses made for driving. I had lost my driver’s licence and in order to obtain a new one, I needed to pass a vision acuity test. In South Africa many people fail the official test offered by the traffic department. They are then given a form and sent to a private optician to be retested. I have never understood why it is that the test offered by the licencing department is not the definitive test. The answer still remains a mystery to me.
It Happened More than Once
I tend to be somewhat careless when it comes to looking after important documentation, so have needed recently to replace my drivers’ licence on a couple of occasions. I had on a previously undergone the inconvenience of having to visit the optician and then return to the testing centre with the required certification. Yes, I had passed this procedure offered free of charge by the profession.
On receipt of my new driving glasses I was somewhat disappointed that my vision when driving was not as sharp as I would have liked. I consoled myself that maybe I needed a bit of time to get used to the new prescription. My eyes needed to adapt. A couple of months later however, I mislaid this new pair of glasses They were nowhere to be found!
Yet Another Time
Back to the optician, I go to purchase yet another pair. When I communicated my dissatisfaction with the previous prescription, my consultant suggested that I have my eyes checked with the ophthalmologist for the growth of cataracts. Maybe I was ready for cataract surgery. After all, said the consultant, “It is no good making you another set of glasses if you were not happy with the previous ones!”
“Yes,” observed the ophthalmologist after examining the results of numerous mechanical eye tests, “You clearly are more than ready for cataract surgery.” I wondered why it was I had waited beyond the ideal time to undertake this procedure. How could I have neglected my vision in this way? Who am I to blame? Is it the fault of the medical profession? Is it my fault? How could I have been so neglectful? I have not yet managed to answer that series of questions.
Surgery was set for the next week. “It will be a piece of cake,” quoted all my friends and acquaintances. Well, In fact the operation took 50 minutes instead of the usual 20 minutes. On my check up visit I learned that due to the delay in my undergoing of the surgery, the lens had become particularly hard, and thus made it more difficult for the surgeon to remove. Her instruments had to be used on their strongest setting to achieve the desired result! The usual conscious sedation was not sufficient, and for some time I was fully unconscious during the procedure because of my restlessness.
Applying the Drops
As I live on my own, I had some concern about how I would cope with applying the numerous drops when I was discharged. Three sets of drop medication were prescribed. Two needed to be used at one hourly intervals. I could not ask my neighbour to come in every hour. Not even, could I expect the nurse from the clinic to come in hourly. I had to work out how to do the procedure myself.
So sitting in a comfortable chair with my head held back, I used my left hand to form a space for the drop, by stretching my lower lid, held the bottle of medication in my other hand next to my eyebrow. Using my tactile senses I awaited the landing of the drop in my eye.
It all seemed to work. It is now four days post the operation and I am having fun comparing my vision in the post- operated right eye, with my vision in my non-operated left eye. What a revelation awaited my experimentation. The white wall outside my home looked white when I look through the eye which had already undergone the procedure. Whereas the left eye, yet to have the operation, perceived the wall in a dullish yellowish colour. A clear demonstration of the effect of the growth of cataracts.
I am optimistically looking forward to a couple of months hence. I have been promised clear vision for both reading and driving with no need for spectacles! A pleasure indeed, and much safer for me and all the other road users in this part of the world!
If you want to find out more about cataract surgery, look here