A bit over two years ago, I had cataract surgery on my left eye. It was a post subcapsular cataract that appeared literally overnight: I awoke to most of the vision in that eye being obscured by a fuzzy white cloud. The surgical fix--removing the damaged natural lens and inserting a plastic one--is reportedly the most common operation in the world, and while no surgery is trivial, the procedure itself was less painful than having one's teeth cleaned. The postoperative activity restrictions and regimen of eye drops were annoying for two weeks, but the result was 20/20 distance vision and a world full of colors brighter than I had ever dreamed...in one eye. My right eye assumed all responsibility for focusing on anything closer than about 3 meters, as a multifocal replacement lens was not an option for me. OK, fine, the brain gets used to ignoring useless information, so one eye for distance and the other for reading worked out better than I'd thought it would.
Fast forward to last winter. A normal "aging" cataract was developing in my right eye, and I knew it would need to be addressed soon. The cataract was causing myopia (nearsightedness), and by March it had narrowed the right eye's focal range to between 1.5 and 2 meters. It was also becoming cloudy. It was time. I realized that I would never be able to read again without glasses, which I'd never worn in my 66 years, but my hobbies are flyfishing and bird banding, and I need my eyes to match to preserve depth perception.
I had the surgery on my right eye last Friday. Unlike the first time, there was no stitch, no cautery, and no opaque patch, just the expected clear plastic shield to wear at night. There was no pain during or after surgery, except a slight bruise from the IV line. The industrial-strength dilation drops took two days to wear off completely, and normal swelling from the operation always causes short-term loss of focus, but I had useful binocular vision upon leaving the hospital that afternoon. After three days, the vision in my right eye is at least as good as that in the left, and still improving. For the first time in my life, I have superb vision in both eyes, and the world is beautiful. My reading glasses work much better now that my eyes match, if I remember to have them handy. I ordered some CliC readers to help with that part. No regrets at all.
Most of us will probably develop cataracts eventually, it's our reward for a long life. Don't be afraid of the surgery. Only about 1 in 100 patients has a complication, and those are nearly always simple to correct. The improvement in my quality of life is profound.
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