Monday, September 16, 2013
Encouraging Words for People Considering Cataract Surgery
Hello friends. Some may wonder why this blog post is in larger type. Well, I am vision impaired. Not only do I have some retina problems, but I am facing cataract surgery very soon. I should have made this decision a long time ago.
The first time that I noticed something was wrong with my vision, actually, was about eight years ago, when my vision began to be cloudy. Realizing that I needed new glasses, I expected to put on my new glasses and have the whole world jump out at me ~ clearer, sharper, and in focus. No such luck. I put on my new glasses, and nothing happened. Not even my bifocals made a difference. To say I was incensed doesn't even describe my reaction. I felt robbed! I demanded my money back, and I went to another doctor.
Oh, I really liked the next Optometrist. She examined my eyes, carefully, and almost as an afterthought, she said, "Hmmmh. Yes, early cataracts. Nothing to worry about." What? Well, tears sprung to my eyes, and I begged for answers. Oh no, I was told. This was normal. Even children can develop early cataracts. Perfectly normal. My vision was 20/30, and correctable, so I could see "perfectly fine." Except I couldn't see "perfectly fine." This went on and on for, well, eight years.
In the meantime, I developed a condition that has NOTHING to do with cataracts ~ NOTHING to do with the lens of the eye at all. It has to do with the retina. It's called Central Serous Retinopathy (CSR). I awoke one morning, looked at the face of my daughter, and she was a lovely orange. It scared me, scared my Optometrist, scared the first Opthamologist, and finally I wound up with a Retinologist, who is a specialized Opthamologist. He did every test under the rainbow, and we waited six months. Finally, thank God, the CSR went into remission, and it has been in remission ever since. However, my cloudy vision got worse.
My next visit, about a year later with the Retinologist was a case study in, what I call, doctor-gibberish (A-plus-plus-this and B-plus-plus-that). I was confused, intimidated, and when he mentioned a "low-vision specialist" and "if I felt I wanted it" cataract surgery, as though I were shopping at Walmart for a purse, I believed I was going blind. No human information that could possibly be understood by anyone who did NOT have a degree in Retinology.
I went home devastated. The next day, I got a call from my ex-Optometrist ~ who by this time I had grown disgusted with ~ and she let me know that she had gotten a "private" message from my Retinologist, whereby he had discussed me, and if I was EVER considering CATARACT surgery, SHE WOULD BE THE FINAL JUDGE! What?! Stunned. Appalled. Hurt. Confused. Intimidated. I hung up.
The next day, I ranted and raved all over the house. Then I called the low-vision specialist for an appointment. Then I waited, and waited, and waited all-summer-long. I did nothing but watch TV through eyes that became cloudier and cloudier. Finally, in August, I had the best eye exam I've ever had, and I got the best glasses I've ever gotten. Wow. I could see and sew!! It was great! For about eight months. Then the clouds formed again, worse than ever.
You see, my friends, the clouds do not go away. They just get thicker, and all the glasses in the world will not penetrate those clouds. Red colors take on orangey-brown tones, greens become grayish, and blues??? Well, you know.
If you do not understand cataracts, walk around for a day with wax-paper taped to your sun glasses, or try to make out the landscape through a dirty window during a huge downpour. Try to see the road through the fog, and try to read street signs through a misty rain. The absolute worst experience for me, was to not recognize the features of my husband's face when I was in the living room and he was in the kitchen. For a writer like me, to no longer be able to finish a novel; for a seamstress, to no longer be able to sew; for an artist to no longer be able to draw; for a photographer, to no longer be able to take a photo; to no longer recognize birds or the critters in my yard, or my neighbors when they speak to me. You have no idea how difficult it is just to finish this blog post.
Persons with cataracts injure themselves and call themselves clumsy; they fall and laugh at their inability to put one foot in front of the other; they cannot comprehend simple things and wonder why they are so stupid. No more!
First of all, let me give some painfully learned advice. With no intent to hurt, an Optometrist is NOT a Medical Doctor. An Opthamologist IS a Medical Doctor, but (and I only recently became painfully aware of this) NOT ALL OPTHAMOLOGISTS ARE SURGEONS!! If you have been to your Optometrist and been fitted for glasses, and you still cannot see, ask the Optician who fitted your glasses for a recommendation for a qualified Opthamologist, M.D. Most likely someone at your Optician store has had cataract surgery. That is where I received my recommendation from those who had successful cataract surgeries. You'll want a top surgeon who is Board Certified ~ one who believes in full sight. Not a surgeon who believes that 20/40 vision is "good enough." Really? You cut a tomato with that vision!
Choosing cataract surgery in the United States, with a Board Certified Surgeon; who has been recommended by people you trust; who has high marks on Healthgrades Ratings; and one who does the most trusted techniques (do your research) is a serious, yet joyful experience. At least it has been so for me. Since I made my decision, I have discovered that I am way behind the times. Just about everyone I know near my age has had successful cataract surgery, and they recommend it highly.
My cataract surgery on my left eye is scheduled for October 2, and my right eye is scheduled for October 30. I have a wonderful surgeon, and I can't wait! There is much to see in this beautiful world, and I do not want to miss the smallest thing! Remember, seeing is believing! Stay tuned. There will be updates!
With love, Jaye Lewis
Posted by Jaye Lewis at 8:44 AM