On the day this posts, I’ll be having cataract surgery on my right eye.
Next month (after my 3-Day Walk, 60-Mile Walk for the Cure), I’ll have cataract surgery on my left eye.
Wait a minute.
- I thought I was too young for this
- Apparently not
I have been in the health care/insurance industry for over 30 years. But, there’s something different about it when health issues affect you.
I thought I’d share both the professional and personal side.
What Are Cataracts
I had been told a couple of years ago that I had a cataract in my right eye. My ophthalmologist said it was not ready for removal.
I guess it wasn’t grown up enough. It sure is now.
Let’s explain what a cataract is.
- The lens of the eye is made up of water and protein
- Protein clumps together to form a cataract
- The cataract causes blurring of vision
When cataracts are smaller, you probably won’t even be aware of them. I wasn’t when I was first diagnosed.
Generally, cataracts are not removed until they start affecting vision.
Don’t cataracts only happen to old people?
The answer to that question depends on your definition of old.
- Cataracts can occur as you age
- BUT – people in their 40s and 50s can have age-related cataracts
Other risk factors can result in cataracts, including ~
- Diabetes and certain other diseases
- Behavioral habits such as smoking or alcohol use
- Environmental effects, such as prolonged sunlight exposure
I knew the symptoms and experienced a few myself.
- Blurred vision – check
- Poor night vision – check
- Sensitivity to glare – check
- Double vision – nope
- Colors faded – don’t think so (check back after the surgery)
I made my appointment where the bedside manner of the new ophthalmologist deserved (and received) his own blog post.
Ironically, the previous doctor retired due to cataract problems.
Your physician will probably use corrective lenses to treat the early stages of cataracts.
If you move to the surgery stage, the following is what you can typically expect.
- There are two types of surgery: Phacoemulsification and Extracapsular
- Phacoemulsification is more common today and uses ultrasound waves to break up the cataract
- The physician then removes the cataract by suction
- Extracapsular involves a larger incision and the core of the cloudy lens is removed in one piece
Because I’m a visual person (yes, bad pun), below is an illustration of the eye.
The natural lens is removed and replaced by an artificial one.
- The artificial lens is permanent
- Typically, you can tell your physician if you prefer seeing better close or at a distance
For many patients, vision is restored where they do not require glasses for both close-up and distance.
And then there’s me.
For someone who loves keeping things simple, I don’t know why I persist in complicating life.
My physician found cornea damage in my right eye during the pre-operative visit.
- The cornea is the outermost part of your eye
- It is dome-shaped (or football-shaped for the sports-inclined)
According to my physician, the cornea does about 75 percent of your focusing.
So, damage to the cornea hurts – not in pain – in sight. (Can’t seem to stay away from bad puns).
Until I have the cataract surgery, they won’t know what effect the damage to my cornea will have on my vision. I may need to wear a hard contact lens in my right eye, plus glasses.
I’m praying the contact is not necessary. I’ve never worn contacts and do not like anything touching my baby blues.
The Exception to the Rule
My ophthalmologist diagnosed me with keratoconus, which is supposed to be more prevalent in teenagers and those in their 20s.
See – I just have to be different.
- They don’t know how I got it
- Never wore contacts, never had an injury
- No aggressive rubbing of the eye
It is a form of an astigmatism, an uneven curvature of the cornea -I flattened my football.
They scheduled my surgery at 12:15 PM. Uh, thanks,
- No food or water after 5:30 AM
- Good thing I’m an early riser
I’ll wear a patch at first – just in time for Halloween.
You have to use eyedrops for what seems like forever. I administered them to my mom following her two cataract surgeries. My mom was 88 at the time. Hmm…
But, I can walk my 60 miles in 3 days – yay!
Now, you know about as much as I do. I’m actually looking forward (I hope) to the cataract surgery to restore my vision. It’s the cornea problem that has me concerned.
Eye illustration and source for post: National Eye Institute
Notice of Disclaimer –Cathy Miller is not a health care provider and cannot provide health care advice. The information provided is for your general background only, and is not intended to constitute health care advice as to your specific circumstances. We recommend you visit your physician for health care issues.