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Eye Surgery [Jun. 28th, 2014|09:04 am]
Three days ago I had a cataract removed from my left eye.  Years ago, my left eye was the stronger of the two (but not by much...I was myopic from childhood, severely enough that I was put in contact lenses at age 15 to stop the progression.)   Several of my friends had had cataract surgery and told me what to expect, but every eye is a little different and mine chose an alternative route back to sight.  I have been wearing bifocals for years.

It's getting there, but it's not "there" yet, in terms of stability enough to get a new prescription for glasses.   Some people go from severely impaired vision to not needing glasses, but I knew going in I would not be one of them.  I have astigmatism as well as myopia and presbyopia (the presbyopia has moderated the myopia a little bit, but has stolen my ability to put my nose on a page and read teeny-tiny print...that went before the distance vision changed at all.)   Although it is possible to get a lens insert that corrects astigmatism...or a lens insert that give you both near and far vision...there's not a lens that gives both astigmatism correction AND bifocal vision, which meant even if I paid a lot more for the astigmatism correction, I'd still need glasses.  But then--except for the ~15 years I wore contact lenses, I've worn glasses for most of my life.  No biggie.

So what I have now is a left eye with better uncorrected distance vision than the right eye...but so much astigmatism that it would not be safe to use in driving...the bending of edges can be enough to make things pop in and out of visibility as I move.  With my glasses on, the left eye's astigmatism is corrected, but the world looks as if someone smeared the lens with petroleum jelly.  Oddly, the distance vision is better through the bottom, "near" part of the bifocals than through the top.   Meanwhile, the right eye has blurry vision for anything with glasses off, but decent (not perfect) vision with glasses on.

The most annoying thing when I first got the left eye unbandaged was a distinct pink haze over everything.  Close it, and colors appeared normal.  Open it and there was the pink.  White things looked pink.  Red things looked very dark to black.  That has, thankfully, faded, becoming more what was described to me by others...colors looking "cooler" but more vivid.   One possibility is that everything IS pink-hazed...but more likely, when I think about it, my cataract was greenish, and having become used to that filter, when it was removed I saw the complementary color until my brain got over it.  OH--you mean you aren't needing compensation for that filter anymore?  OK.

An interesting thing is how easily my brain switches eye dominance with clarity of vision: whichever eye sees more clearly takes over and input from the other one fades.  I'm typing wearing glasses, using my right eye.  If I shut my left eye, everything on the monitor is blurry, but I don't notice any blur while typing.  If I turn to look out the window, it seems that I have, indeed, normal distance vision with the right eye and there's no blur from the left eye.  But if I push up my glasses, the left eye instantly "takes over" and gives me a full-field view with that eye, becuase--though not perfect--it's much stronger distance vision than the uncorrected right eye.   It's fairly seamless.  I've discovered that I can read (as I often do) with my glasses off by holding a book close...but glance up and the left eye's better distance seeing takes over and lets me see the folds of the window curtain, clothes hanging in the closet, etc.  Then glance back at the book and the near-sighted right eye locks in on the print.   If I had opted for the astigmatism-correction lens implant, I would have useful vision both very near and far without glasses (monocular in both, however, and missing  in the 1 foot to maybe 4 foot range.  )

Supposedly over the next two weeks, about, the left eye's visual acuity will settle down to what it's going to be, and I can get a new prescription, so that I can see out of both sides of my glasses, with only astigmatism correction (or very little myopic correction) in the left eye, plus the bifocal correction for closer sight, and the usual in my right eye.   The right eye also has a cataract, but it isn't nearly as bad as the one removed, and I won't be having that surgery until it gets worse.

[User Picture]From: jhetley
2014-06-28 02:07 pm (UTC)
I've noticed a distinct difference in color balance after single-eye cataract surgery. In my case, the old lens gives a yellow-brown tinge to the world. Crappy outlook on life?
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[User Picture]From: spiritdance
2014-06-28 03:30 pm (UTC)
I don't remember any color shift after my single eye cataract surgery last summer, but that may be due to the type of cataract removed ("oil drop" type, so no color to it). OTOH, I remember seeing at a distance clearly thru the existing bifocal. Weird sensation :-)
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[User Picture]From: janetmk
2014-06-28 04:33 pm (UTC)
When I had my cataract surgery a couple of years ago, the opthalmologist recommended that I wait at least a month to get new glasses. I got by fine in the meantime by removing the lens from my eyeglasses on the side of the surgery.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2014-06-28 05:36 pm (UTC)
I can't because of the astigmatism...it's really strong in my left eye. SERIOUSLY strong. I can walk around in the house and yard, but I would not attempt to drive with it. The bendy places are bendy enough to hide things.
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[User Picture]From: thewayne
2014-06-28 04:39 pm (UTC)
Congrats! I had both my eyes done last month, yesterday was my one month follow-up and we found out that my right eye (the second one done) is now at 20/25, my left eye tested to 20/30 on the day-after follow-up, but it has an opacity that requires laser surgery to fix, and they can't do that 'till mid-August. So I'm stuck with these lousy reading glasses for far too many things until after the laser surgery when I'll be tested again and can FINALLY get new bifocals.

The only way that I could use my 27" iMac before my right eye was done was to put on an eye patch on my fixed eye and wear my normal glasses from which I'd had the left lens removed. Inconvenient, but it worked well. Now with both eyes fixed, I can type this without my reading glasses, but it's a little fuzzy because of the distortion of my left.

I experienced no color shift with mine. For me, my cataract growth was accelerated from living at high altitude for a decade, we're at 9,000'. Oh, one thing that kicked my needing surgery on both eyes was I asked for a glare test. We knew both eyes were developing, but I think that kicked it over the top.
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[User Picture]From: kewpiexdoll
2014-06-28 05:20 pm (UTC)
I am legally blind ib one eye. Good luck!
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[User Picture]From: tuftears
2014-06-28 08:30 pm (UTC)
Glad to hear you survived surgery and vision is coming back! ^_^
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From: sheff_dogs
2014-06-28 09:33 pm (UTC)
It really is amazing and wonderful how quickly the brain adapts. Glad your recovery is going well.
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[User Picture]From: ann_mcn
2014-06-28 11:15 pm (UTC)
Fascinating. I've been listening and reading all I can about the experience and results. I've been in glasses since I was six, and wore hard contacts ffor about 20 years, beginning at 15, which resulted in induced astigmatism and a switch to soft contacts. Bifocal contacts make me sea-sick, however, so I've been in trifocals for about 10-12 years. I do have a tiny cataract, now so I'm very interested in how the combination of myopia, presbyopia, and astigmatism all work out. Best wishes.
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[User Picture]From: blueeowyn
2014-06-29 12:52 pm (UTC)
I'm glad to hear that you are doing well. I'm VERY glad to hear that you are one of the ones who can switch between eyes easily. My mother wasn't (they tried putting different contacts on her so that one would be close stuff and one would be far and her brain kept trying to use both at once.

Fingers crossed that things settle down and they get a good set of glasses for you. Bad/wrong glasses (esp. in astimatism correction) are horrible.
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[User Picture]From: mrs_redboots
2014-06-29 09:44 pm (UTC)
You're the third person I know to have had cataract surgery this month, and the fourth within the past three months! JA, who had hers a couple of months ago, had vision-correcting lenses inserted in her eyes, and is loving clearer vision than she has had for 50 years. J, who is now 3 or 4 weeks out from surgery, has macular degeneration and is very nearly blind, but she says that the surgery has really helped - she can see colours again, and actually see when a bus is arriving at the bus stop! I gather that although reading is still difficult, it has really transformed her world. As for M, she had her surgery about 48 hours before you had yours, and is still in the settling-down phase (she saw everything blue at first); she is going to need reading-glasses, but only those!
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[User Picture]From: grassrose
2014-06-30 04:41 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm in the early stages of cataracts (I only know because my doc told me, so far), and it's good to hear what to expect. I'm very nearsighted ~800 in both eyes, and I have an astigmatism, so it's disappointing that they can't fix both at once. But, like you, I've worn glasses most of my life, so it won't be a huge big deal.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2014-06-30 05:53 pm (UTC)
I must have been unclear, grassrose: there is an implant that will fix both myopia and astigmatism...but it will give only one focal length per eye (distance or close up). There is another implant that will give both focal lengths (distance and close) in one eye but it can't do all three. However, there may be a limit on the diopters that can be worked with.

At this point, I kinda wish I'd spent the extra money for the astigmatism + distance vision, because the distance vision has really cleared up (also the pink haze) but the warped effect of the astigmatism means I'm not going to be OK to drive without corrective lenses in addition--and if the astigmatism had been fixed, I would be able to.
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[User Picture]From: grassrose
2014-07-01 01:01 am (UTC)
No, I think I understood. I'm starting to need some distance correction as well. It's funny - as a child I always assumed that when you aged and started getting far-sighted, it meant that you wouldn't be as near-sighted (it made sense, in a child's logic). It's only when it started happening, that I thought about it enough to realize that the candle was burning at both ends.
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From: (Anonymous)
2014-06-30 04:55 pm (UTC)

Very useful detailed description

This is Chuck/Victorian Barbarian (if LiveJournal doesn't show who I am).

As someone looking toward a future of eventual cataract surgery, I want to thank you for your detailed observations of your particular experience. I don't think I've ever read a clearer, more comprehensible discussion of the aftermath of this surgery in such practical terms. The combination of pre-conditions matches most of my own, so I feel much more prepared for the period after the surgery.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2014-06-30 06:04 pm (UTC)

Re: Very useful detailed description

I'm glad to help.

Now 5 days out, I'm still using the plastic eye protector at night (so I don't rub the eye on a pillow or hand or anythhing while sleeping) and taking medicated eye drops three times a day...two to prevent inflammation and swelling in the eye, and one antibiotic (since the antiinflammatory steroid drops make the eye more susceptible to infection.) So far so good. The white of my eye is still pink, compared to the other one. There's no discomfort, other than the gooey residue of the eyedrops and the occasional feeling that I might have a tiny bit of dust in my eye. And it's transient.

Taping on the eye protector at night and untaping it in the morning is a bit of a pain but better than risking something nudging the eyeball while sleeping. Just getting the cataract out of the eye has made things brighter overall (not at once--the pupil of the operated eye tends to close down a lot for a day or so after) and the correction of myopia is really startling...it reminds me of the years I wore contacts and had 20/20 vision without glasses...but it's there when I wake up and get the eye protector off. I cannot remember ever waking up and seeing things clearly (warped-clearly, in this case, but clearly.) As I mentined in a previous comment, I do rather wish I'd scraped up the money for the astigmatism/myopia correction implant, but even so...to look across a field at a line of trees over a quarter mile away and see the line sharp against the sky (albeit bent in the middle by astigmatism) is amazing.
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[User Picture]From: 90sbondgirl
2014-07-03 04:38 pm (UTC)
My MIL just had cataract surgery a couple months ago. She'd had LASIK surgery several years ago, and had chosen to have 1 eye corrected for distance and 1 for near vision. (IDK if she has astigmatism.) She said already having the monovision corrections in each eye made it much easier to adapt after the surgery; she just had the appropriate correction lens implanted. However, she hadn't realized just how bad things had become until she had the surgery. She was fairly annoyed that nobody had noticed this apparently very obvious cataract previously. But, all's well that ends well. She's very pleased with her results, and I hope you will be too.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2014-07-04 02:54 pm (UTC)
Yes, but I'll be more pleased when I get my next prescription and can drive again.
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