Today is the first day that I haven’t had to wear some form of visual correction to give me clear distance vision since I was 7 years old. 48 years of reliance on glasses and contact lenses all changed in 15 minutes.
The vision in my right eye has been getting steadily more blurred over the last year. The power of my left contact lens is stable at -6.00 Dioptres but the right contact lens power increased from -8.00 Dioptres to -16.00 Dioptres, and even then my vision was blurred. I suspected a cataract and when my optometric friend Jeremy confirmed my diagnosis I contacted an old friend, consultant ophthalmic surgeon Roger Baer at CircleBath for his advice.
Our discussion revolved mainly around the ultimate visual outcome. Roger is able to select any lens power to replace the cataract, so I had to decide my preferred post-operative visual condition.
Roger ruled out multifocal lens implants for me. Whilst they do offer the ability to see distance and near without requiring an external reading correction such as reading glasses, the loss of definition, especially with regard to night driving can be very uncomfortable and disabling.
The second option is monovision, whereby one eye is focused in the distance and the other for close work. We spent some time discussing which of my eyes is dominant as that needs to be the one focused in the distance. My left eye currently has no cataract at all and has effectively become the lead eye, but I was sure that I used to be strongly ‘right eyed’. I decided to have the full distance correction in the right eye, with a toric lens to correct some astigmatism, and I then have the option to modify the power of my left contact lens to help with near vision if I so desired. Alternatively I could fully correct my left eye distance vision with the contact lens and wear one of the new sophisticated spectacle lenses when I am performing near vision tasks. which I am perfectly happy to do because I actually quite enjoy wearing some of the new eyewear designs available.
Decision made, I was booked in for surgery.
I admit to a small amount of trepidation on the day of the operation. Although I have referred more clients for cataract surgery than I care to remember, and almost all of them have had excellent results, there is bound to be some concern about what may go wrong. Roger assured me however in his pre-op chat that the risk of a major complication is only about 1 in 3000.Thus reassured I was ushered into the theatre to meet what Roger called his ‘A’ Team. All very friendly.
The operation was, from my side of things, relatively straightforward. My eye was numbed with anaesthetic drops and the most uncomfortable part was having to stare at an extremely bright light throughout the procedure. I felt a bit of pressure on the eye when the new lens was inserted, but that was about it. I wouldn’t admit to enjoying the experience, but I wouldn’t worry about doing it again.
My vision immediately after the operation was very misty, mainly because my pupil was still dilated, but I could see around the room, including the analogue clock on the wall, even if the numbers were difficult to discern. My eye felt as though it had a rock in it, with a strong stinging sensation. This abated over the next two hours at a rate inversely proportional to the rate of vision improvement, so that by the evening I could see moderately well, and I was only aware of a minor eyelash sensation.
So here I am now, the morning after, on a boat to France for a bit of R & R with Rosenn’s parents because I thought that I would still be struggling and unable to work. The vision is 98% perfect without a correction and the eye is extremely comfortable, so really I should be beavering away in my consulting room. But the invitation was extended, there is wine to be drunk, and cheese to be eaten, and whisky to be sampled, and it would be rude not to accept. Anyway, I need to adapt to my new visual environment, and what better place to do it?
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