What it’s like to have Cataract Surgery

As the anesthetist wheeled my hospital bed down the hall, I looked up at the rectangles of passing florescent lights overhead, stereotypical of every television hospital scene ever filmed. Maybe it was a side effect of the sedative he gave me, but the thought that I was in a bad TV movie amused me.

I was going into surgery to have my old dirty cloudy eye lens plucked out from my right eye and replaced with an UltraSert lens, corrected for my nearsightedness and with UV and blue light filters! Years of squinting into the sun and just plain living had caught up with me. I’d been seeing haloes around the headlights of oncoming cars for years. Things had gotten so bad recently that I started avoiding driving at night.

This surgery was going to give me a new lease on seeing. My friends who had undergone the procedure told me it was a piece of cake, but I was skeptical about staying awake and having someone rummaging around in my eye innards. It didn’t help that the day before my surgery, news reports came out about a woman who committed suicide because her Lasik surgery went wrong.

At least I was having a different procedure done, but it still gave me pause.

Well, I am still here to say that I’m looking forward to having my other lens replaced later this week. Although I didn’t feel that sedated, I was apparently relaxed enough that they didn’t need to strap my head down to keep it from moving.

The doctor opened my eye with a speculum. They irrigated my eye with a saline solution and that’s about the only thing I felt. The main thing I had to remind myself was not to try to blink or struggle against the speculum.

What did I see? The white light that the doctor used to look into my eye. I saw the light the whole time through the 20-minute procedure. I couldn’t really tell when my old lens was gone and the new one was put in – I always saw light, although I guess from stories I’ve heard, other people see a red light or blackness. There was one point when my sight seemed to take a more internal turn, and I got impressions of things floating around inside my eye. Perhaps that’s when I was lensless.

From the time I got to the outpatient clinic to the time I went home took about 4 hours. You’ll need a friend to drive you home and back later the same day to the clinic for a follow-up exam by your doctor where s/he will check the pressure of your eye and make sure everything’s okay.

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A blurry photo of my fashionable night eye guard that I wore for a week.

Be prepared for a lot of different drops put in your eye. Post-surgery you’ll be on an eye drop regimen that consists of a steroid to keep the swelling down and an antibiotic to prevent infection. At night, you’ll need to wear an eye guard for the first week.

The worst part of the procedure was only having one good eye to work with for two weeks. Although I got a clear lens placed in my eyeglasses over my good eye, I found I couldn’t tolerate wearing my glasses because of the lack of depth perception. So I’ve just been going around with one clear eye and one fuzzy eye. So if you notice any spelling errors in this post, that is why! But I’ve been making due the best I can in the meantime, and I’ve been able to drive all right (20/30 vision in my surgeried eye makes me legal to drive).

I also went out and bought a brand new pair of nonprescription sunglasses — first time I’ve been able to do that in years! The surgery seems to have made my eyes more sensitive to light, and the sunglasses are helpful.

A creepy side effect of the surgery is that, in the right conditions, I can see reflections from the artificial lens in my eye. I can tell that it’s not natural – kind of like having a robot eye. I wasn’t expecting that. But I guess it’s worth it to have better vision.

Anyway, wish me luck on my next surgery, and if you are scheduled to have it – I’m here to attest that it really isn’t so bad. It may even free you from glasses. And no, my doctor is not paying me to say any of this!

2 thoughts on “What it’s like to have Cataract Surgery

  1. Thanks for the reality review of cataract surgery! There will be one in my future eventually, my physician tells me. Friends say it is no big deal but don’t share details the way you did. I admit I squirmed as I read some parts of it! You are brave. May your second one go as well as the first!

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