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Attached to my Vision

August 17, 2013

It was all good news at my eye examination on Monday morning.  I was certainly apprehensive about what the doctor would tell me.  It took me quite a while to decide to book the appointment.  For the whole rest of the day, after he gave me the result, I felt elated.  I must have been more afraid than I realized.  I was worried about permanent loss of vision.  Quite the contrary, it was the best possible news.  I felt liberated.

I had just had an eye examination, back in February.  The doctor reported that my vision was excellent.  I agreed with him; it was excellent.  I had cataract surgery about three years ago.  I had cataracts in both eyes, but one was worse than the other.  I had distorted vision in that eye.  I found it difficult to do many things that had been easy before.  The result of the surgery was nothing short of a miracle.  My vision was excellent once again.  I had been myopic, with high-prescription glasses.  Suddenly, I had 20/20 vision without glasses.  This was something I’d never experienced before.  I did need reading glasses, of course, because my newly-implanted lenses had no power of accomodation.  I decided on bifocals, even though I could have gotten by with those funny-looking reading glasses that sit way down on your nose.  One eye needed a slight correction for distance vision.  Besides, I’d worn glasses all my life.  I expected crystal-clear vision.  This was it was the best it could be.

Several months ago, I had the first indication that something was wrong.  I thought at first that I was developing bleary eyes.  It was like I might get just after waking up in the morning, except that it lasted all day.  Maybe the composition of my tears had changed.  I kept blinking.  I rubbed my eyes frequently.  Nothing helped.  Finally, I decided to try each eye separately, by closing the other one.  I quickly discovered that I was getting a clear sharp image from my left eye, but a decidedly blurry image from my right one.  That was a discouraging discovery.  I liked the 3D vision and depth perception I got from two eyes.  Now my brain had difficulty reconciling the two images, the sharp one and the blurry one.  Often they were overlaid, so that I seemed to be looking at a sharp image through a fog.  Sometimes the two images would switch back and forth.  I had to close my right eye to get my brain working correctly again.

Once I knew that I had a problem in one eye, I read up on the possible causes.  The most common, after cataract surgery, is something called a secondary cataract or after-cataract.  It’s a cloudiness that develops in eye tissues behind the new lens.  Older people, like me, sometimes get age-related macular degeneration.  That was a frightening prospect.  Then there’s detached retina, something that happens from time to time too.  I was worried.

What should I do?  It took me a long time to decide.  Finally I decided to start with another eye examination.  I had just had one in February.  During that one, the doctor said “there’s no sign of that haze that sometimes appears after a cataract operation”.  That made a secondary cataract now quite unlikely.  It must be something else.  At least this time the doctor would tell me what had happened to my right eye.  I was worried.

As I described my symptoms to the doctor on Monday morning, he told me that he already suspected the cause.  He said “this is quite routine, you know”.  That didn’t comfort me at all.  He did a refraction to confirm the change I noticed.  Then he examined the back of my eye, the retina.  He found no problems there.  That was a bit of a relief.  The last thing he did was to look into my eye with a microscope; he couldn’t see in.  He told me “if I can’t see in, you can’t see out”.  That was the problem!  It was a secondary cataract, something that happens in a minority of cataract patients.  It’s easily treatable during an office visit.  I told him “this is good news, you know”.  In fact, it was wonderful news, news that I hadn’t expected.

All they have to do now is to arrange an appointment with my eye surgeon for the treatment.  I’m looking forward to normal vision once again, with a clear sharp image in 3D and proper depth perception.  I’m already happier than I was before.

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