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Scar Tissue

March 6, 2016

A number of years ago, I had cataract surgery on both eyes.  This is a rather common operation for older people.  My surgeon did many of these operations, and did them very well.  The outcome seemed like a miracle to me.  My vision returned to normal.  I could see without glasses.  I had worn glasses all my life before then.  It was a miracle.

One of the side effects of cataract surgery is something often called a secondary cataract or a haze.  My doctor called it scar tissue.  It’s something that may develop in the tissue surrounding the lens implant, but only in a minority of patients.  It happened to me several years after the surgery.  I had just had an eye examination by my optometrist.  He told me that my vision was near perfect.  I thought so too, but within a month or two I was not so sure.  My vision had deteriorated in one eye.  I went back to the same optician.  This time, he diagnosed me with a secondary cataract in that eye.  I went back to my surgeon as soon as possible.  He agreed that there was scar tissue in that eye.  He told me he could see it in the other eye as well.  The treatment for this condition is very simple.  It’s done with a YAG laser, right in the doctor’s office.  Again, it seemed like a miracle to me.  By the time I walked out of his office, I could see a great improvement in that eye.  It was back to normal once again.  I was elated.

I was also concerned about my other eye.  After all, he had said he saw the same thing in that eye.  It seemed fine to me.  I compared one eye to the other by covering one eye and then the other.  I didn’t notice any difference.  About a year later, I went back to get my other eye done.  They gave me an examination, and told me that my vision was still near perfect.  The surgeon told me to wait until I developed vision problems in that eye.  After all, it might never happen.  I accepted that information, but I asked him how I would know when I needed the YAG laser procedure on that eye.  He advised me to continue comparing one eye to the other.  That way, I would know if my vision had deteriorated.  He told me I’d be ready for treatment if my brain was unable to integrate the images from each eye into a single image, and was switching from one image to the other instead.  He also said I’d be ready when I could say that I’d be very unhappy if both eyes were like the bad one.  I was very pleased to have these criteria to go by.

About two year later, I began to notice some symptoms.  They were slight, but certainly present.  The image from the eye that had the scar tissue was a bit cloudier than the image from the other one.  I could see better without glasses than I could with them, even though one side had only a slight correction and the other had none at all.  The most obvious thing I noticed was glare from that eye, particularly from bright lights at night.  I stopped driving at night because of that.  I believed I was ready for YAG laser treatment on that eye.  Would the surgeon be prepared to do it?  I made an appointment.

First, a technician did some optical tests on me.  She used some sort of automatic refraction test.  It worked fine on my good eye, but she couldn’t get a reading on my bad eye.  The surgeon was not at all surprised.  He did a further examination of both eyes.  He told me that my good eye had healed up very nicely after the YAG laser treatment.  The bad one had some scar tissue that could be removed.  Would I like to have that done now?  “Yes”, I said.  I didn’t add “That’s what I came for”.  He sat me down in another room.  I was on one side of the instrument.  He was on the other, operating the laser.  Every time it fired, I heard a snap.  It seemed like it was inside my head.  In a few minutes, it was all over.  He was telling me about eye drops and giving me a prescription.  It was four drops a day for four days.

Again, it was like a miracle.  My vision was crystal clear, with and without glasses.  The world was in three dimensions again.  At times, I would marvel at how wonderful my surroundings were.  I did notice many floaters after the procedure, both black ones and white ones.  The black ones were particularly anoying.  I kept seeing an insect flying off to one side, one that vanished when I turned my head.  After a few days, they disappeared.  My vision was still amazing.  It was like another miracle.  My surgeon told me that scar tissue does not recur once it’s been dealt with.  I shouldn’t need any more eye treatment.  My vision should be stable now.


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