How many years since you’ve had your eyes checked? When you renew your driver’s license, are you a little apprehensive about whether you can pass the vision screening? Do you feel nervous about driving in the rain at night — even for short distances?
June was Cataract Awareness Month. Did you miss it because you couldn’t see it?
After a few years of cautions about cataracts, I decided my time had come, and that this was the summer to take care of my problem. After a quick check with my health insurance, I learned that the eye surgeon I had planned to use was no longer covered by my plan. I quickly found a new doctor, Dr. John Wilding, and started the process. He and his excellent staff have helped allay my fears which were significant.
Much of my life is spent in reading, writing, and preparing PowerPoints for my classes. In other words, I use my eyes — a lot. I also have mono-vision: one eye for distance and one eye for up close. My eyes are naturally this way, and the doctor wanted to know if I was left-handed. My response, “No, but lots of people in my family are.” And I began to regale him with my list. I think he soon regretted asking the question.
Dr. Wilding put me on what he called the “fast track” with surgery two weeks apart. “Fast track” has nothing to do with eye drops: I started them for three days before the first surgery in mid- June, and I must continue until near the end of July . There are three varieties of drops, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and steroids, and on some days, it’s been a total of as many as 11 meds scheduled three times a day with five minutes required between each one.
I was having a hard time with the eye drop process and was putting eye drops everywhere above and below my eye. And they are liquid gold. I will have spent in excess of $500 out-of-pocket for these magical meds with their identification listed in the smallest imaginable font size. Wonder why the manufacturers haven’t been told that they need to attach a magnifying glass to each prescription?
One professionals told me how to do it, so I consider myself somewhat of an expert. To begin with, wash your hands thoroughly. Keyboards, phones, doorknobs have all kinds of germs that can prove harmful to the eye. Stand in front of a mirror. Take your index finger of your left hand, form a little cup with your bottom lid and place the drop in that cup. Don’t blink because blinking is one of the body’s natural defenses against foreign objects in the eye.
This surgery provides an excellent excuse to go to a salon to have my hair washed by a person trained in such tasks, because I had been told I needed to take care to keep water out of my eyes. I go to Great Clips , and not only do I get a thorough washing, I also have great conversations with the stylists. And I didn’t even have to make an appointment. Are hair stylist therapists? I think so — except, of course, for the pay level.
And there’s no heavy lifting, such as vacuuming and other household tasks, during the healing stage. I say, “Yes” to that advantage.
Disadvantages of cataract surgery: I can now see all my wrinkles, and those chin hairs that I thought I had kept at bay seem to be now totally out of hand. My husband is not as handsome as I thought he was. Just kidding, Gary. I no longer have an excuse to not weigh in regularly on the bathroom scales as now I can read the numbers. Yikes!
On a serious note, consider checking out a book I read several months ago, “Second Suns: Two Trailblazing Doctors and Their Quest to Cure Blindness.” The book is an account of Nepalese doctor Sanduk Ruit and American surgeon Geoffrey Tabin and their work as part of the Himalayan Cataract Project in restoring sight to hundreds of thousands of the world’s poorest. Their treks to remote areas to take their abilities to persons who without cataract surgery would never see the faces of those whom they love most.
In conclusion, get an eye exam and follow the directions of your doctor. After all, I’m just giving you my personal sense of things, and your situation could be radically different.
Vivian Blevins is a consultant for the Training Solutions Group Inc. who teaches courses in writing and literature for major telecom company employees. Reach her at (937) 778-3815 or firstname.lastname@example.org.