Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Eye see

I had my first eye surgery (for cataracts) at the end of last week and I can see better out of my left eye now than I have for over 50 years. Yes, I have been very short sighted for a very long time, that is when you have difficulty seeing your hand in front of your face and don't even ask about the distance. My standard answer to someone who asks me how far down the eye chart can you read is, what chart? Even so, glasses and contact lens have allowed me to see quite well for most of that time.

I needed surgery because my eyesight had been deteriorating so quickly that practically speaking it was no longer correctable: by the time I got a new prescription filled my eyes were slipping again. So I was over the moon when I found out that there was not only an explantion but also a solution.

The first day after my surgery, I got up, took the protective patch off and I could see well enough
with the one eye to have my breakfast and read the newspaper without corrective lenses. I was thrilled. To top it off the day was bright and beautiful, so I put a contact lens in the other eye (better balance when both eyes see) and went out with my camera.

Everyone that I knew that had had cataract surgery said, you will be amazed, it is as if your colours come back. I thought that my colour perception was pretty good still, but the difference for me was light!

Yes light and depth,  things are definitely not just two dimensional any more, the shadows, the shapes, the perspective have all changed dramatically.

My walk took me to a nearby park, where I was overwhelmed by the beauty and light. In some ways it was as if I was seeing it for the first time.

The cherry trees were blooming and I took picture after picture of the blossoms and drank in the subtle perfume.

Here is a little background on what a cataract is from Wikipedia:

"Cataract surgery is the removal of the natural lens of the eye (also called "crystalline lens") that has developed an opacification, which is referred to as a cataract. Metabolic changes of the crystalline lens fibers over time lead to the development of the cataract and loss of transparency, causing impairment or loss of vision. Many patients' first symptoms are strong glare from lights and small light sources at night, along with reduced acuity at low light levels. During cataract surgery, a patient's cloudy natural lens is removed and replaced with a synthetic lens to restore the lens's transparency."

"Following surgical removal of the natural lens, an artificial intraocular lens implant is inserted (eye surgeons say that the lens is "implanted"). Cataract surgery is generally performed by an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon) in an ambulatory (rather than inpatient) setting, in a surgical center or hospital, using local anesthesia (either topical, peribulbar, or retrobulbar), usually causing little or no discomfort to the patient. Well over 90% of operations are successful in restoring useful vision, with a low complication rate. Day care, high volume, minimally invasive, small incision phacoemulsification with quick post-op recovery has become the standard of care in cataract surgery all over the world."

Here is my rather unscientific explanation of myopia, as I understand it when a person is myopic, or short sighted, the eyeball instead of being round is instead oblong, so when the light or image enters the eye it doesn't focus on the retina (the eye's "big screen" at the back) instead it focuses somewhere in front of it and things look blurry. This can be corrected with either glasses or contact lenses that are thinner in the middle, and thicker at the edges (think Coke bottle maybe) which lenghtens the focal length so the light or image reaches the retina, or close to it, an the image is sharper.

In cataract surgery since the natural lens is being replaced anyway it is an opportunity to replace it with one that also corrects vision. Yipee!

We have three fields of vision, close, middle and distance. When we get older most of us start having problems seeing closeup, and as a result wear glasses for close work or reading. When vision is corrected with a replacement lens, as I understand it, you can have your vision corrected for close and middle or for middle and distance. I have chosen to have one eye corrected for close and middle and the other for middle and distance and hope to be able to have the two work together to see almost everything clearly. That's the plan anyway.

So to get back to walking in the park, the trees, the blossoms, the birds it was wonderful to see things more clearly, and should be even better when my second eye surgery is complete.

Being very short sighted has another odd complication and that is that after one eye is corrected with an implanted lens the image size that I see with that eye is different than the size of the other eye with the contact lens on the surface of the eye. At first I wasn't walking in a straight line at all, but I am getting more used to the sensation; for this reason the surgeon tries to do the surgeries fairly close together.

Enough said? Come and enjoy the blossoms with me.

"You can become blind by seeing each day as a similar one. Each day is a different one, each day brings a miracle of its own. It's just a matter of paying attention to this miracle."
Paulo Coelho

Somehow I don't think I am going to take seeing well for granted, it is a wonderful gift and I am most grateful to have it.

I did manage to finish off the painting I started last week and I have been working on a couple of new ones. Here is the finished watercolour "Spring Tulips":

"Spring Tulips"

That's all for today, thanks for dropping by, Happy Whimsy Wednesday, until next week.............