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Sunday, July 31, 2016

My Cataract Surgery Experience


I thought I’d share with all of you my experience with this because there’s a good chance many of you may need to have this surgery in the future.  Supposedly one of every ten surgeries performed in the USA daily is cataract surgery, so it’s common and routine.




However, this is still scary when you think of the prospect of a doctor cutting on your eyeball.  And of course there are a ton of disclaimers, as with anything.  They have to tell you everything that can go wrong because you have to agree to the surgery beforehand.



 There were charts like this in the doctor's office
 
So cataract surgery is what’s been going on with me during the month of July this year.  I scheduled most of my posts ahead because I didn’t know when I’d be able to get on the computer after the surgery.  They did the first eye on the eleventh and the second on the eighteenth.  Needless to say, the second eye wasn’t as traumatic as the first one.  But it was two totally different experiences.  I don’t know what the reason for that was – a different eye with a different lens implant, a different surgical team, or what?  I had the same doctor for both surgeries.




Both times I was in the operating room for about thirty minutes while they used ultra sound waves to remove the cataracts so they could implant the new lens.  They like to do the dominating eye first because supposedly one can get used to everything quicker and easier.  I’m still not used to it, but that’s another story.  I know it’ll take time, just like getting used to my trifocal glasses I had to get two and a half years ago.  Those glasses took me about two months to get used to.  Luckily I didn’t break my neck on the stairs in the process.

I decided on monovision after I got over the shock of how weird it sounded to make one eye far distance and the other near distance.  Some co-workers and one of my sisters said they loved theirs.  I felt more comfortable with the idea after talking to them.  So my far distance eye was first in the operating room.

After changing into a hospital gown, having an IV put in my arm for the sedative and being dowsed about six times in the eye with a numbing and dilating eye drop I was ready.  I had already been there two hours at this point.



 I received a nice tote bag advertising the place
 
I’m not sure what they hold your eye open with, but it felt like sticky tape to me.  They drape your whole upper body in a lightweight cloth and tell you to relax while they tie you down to a tiny stainless steel table.  They even strap your head in and tell you not to move, BUT they said I can shut the other eye, or blink, etc.  Naturally, I was stiff as a board and couldn’t relax at all.  I was afraid I’d move even blinking my other eye so I waited until I had to blink after it was burning and watering.  The only thing I could see was through a small hole that exposes the eye to be operated on.  But soon they shine a bright light in your eye and tell you to pick out a dot to focus on and stare at it the whole time.  Well there were three dots and they looked like marshmallows to me.

I stared at those as they moved all around and turned color after color as they morphed into different shapes and sizes.  It was like a psychedelic light show with all the colors of the rainbow and then more.  The only thing I remember beyond that was the blood pressure cuff going on and off as it squeezed my arm about every five minutes.  I made add that you are sedated but not unconscious so they can talk to you if they need to.

They helped me to sit up and transfer to my other bed as soon as the surgery was over.  I was a bit woozy and everything was blurry.  Then they wheeled my bed down the hallway and into recovery.  The doctor came in and said all went well and things would still be blurry when I went to my follow up appointment the next day.

I couldn’t eat all day except for the clear liquid diet you have to follow when you go in for a colonoscopy.  It was 7 PM once we left the surgical center, so hubby stopped at Subway on the way home and we got sandwiches to go.  I stayed in the car because I couldn’t see anything anyway.



 This is the awful patch, hard plastic, not comfortable and way too big
 
I had to sleep on three pillows for the first three nights and wear that awful patch, so I got little sleep.  It kept coming off so I’d have to get up in the night to tape it back on.  When I got up the next morning my eye was very blurry, but I did notice how white the walls were and the sinks in the bathroom too.  Everything was so blinding bright that I actually wore sunglasses in the house for the first two days.  My eye gradually cleared and was doing pretty well when it was time to go in for eye number two.


Preparing the patch


The second eye was my near vision lens and it was a very different experience.  First of all, the pre-op nurse was a different gal.  “Linda” from Tennessee did much better with starting my IV.  She didn’t even a leave a bruise.  I still had a nasty looking bruise on my right hand from the first surgery and the other pre-op nurse “Terri,” who was to be my doctor’s assistant in the surgery this time.



 These are my deluxe sunglasses
 
I still had to lie there watching TV with sunglasses on while my eyes got numbed and dilated but “Linda” only gave me about three doses of the drops.  I didn’t think that was enough so I asked for more in pre-op and again in the surgery.

I was finally taken back there where they hooked me up to a heart monitor, like before, and put the blood pressure cuff on, etc.  They taped my eye open again, but this time I felt like it wanted to close all during the procedure.  I don’t think the nurse got the apparatus on exactly right, or perhaps tight enough.  The doctor kept telling me to look up, look down, look toward him, etc.  The vision I was seeing this time had little color and was more like cracked eggshells or a shattered mirror or sheet of glass with lots of tiny irregular cracks running everywhere.  The background color was pale with an occasional burst of brighter color.




After surgery this eye was blurry too but wasn’t as bad as the first time because I had the good eye that was clear.  The next day it was still blurry and it still is almost two weeks later.  It’s not changing as fast as the first eye.  But I have noticed that the paper is clearer over the last couple of days and the far-sighted eye seems to be blurry when looking close up.  Both eyes previously have been trying to do the same thing – see close up and also far away and it makes them both seem blurry at times.  I’m hoping this means my brain is adjusting itself to the new situation.



 The patch taped on for the night.  Be careful here unless you want to wax your eyebrows.
 
I go back on August 10th and he’ll tell me if I need glasses then.  I hope not because they are a huge pain in the butt.  They’re always dirty and having dry eye doesn’t help the situation of trying to keep my glasses clean.


All my eye drops


On top of all this, there are three eye drops to use daily in both eyes for a different number of days each, so I have a schedule with lots of boxes to check off so I can keep it all straight.  Having eye surgery isn’t a piece of cake, but I figure I can do anything for a month.  Sorry for the long post, but now you know what happens for cataract surgery.  More updates later.

17 comments:

  1. Sunni, what an experience! My husband went through cataract surgery a few years back but did not relate his experience so vividly! Now, I am progressing toward that fateful event possibly next year. Just went to contacts which is great for distance, driving, everyday wear but reading, working on the computer...totally different stories! At least in reading your post I have a "clearer" picture of exactly what to expect. I have often wondered how in world a doctor can work on someone's eye while he or she is still conscious! Um-m-m-m? Perhaps I can pass on this one? Probably not! Have a wonderful day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sharla,

      Good to see you here. I wanted everyone to know what this experience is like in case anyone out there is facing this one day. It's something I wouldn't want to do again, but I'm glad I did it because everything is so much brighter now and clearer. I was very nervous at first, believe me, but I was awake and didn't feel anything.

      When you have cataracts you can't fix that with glasses or contacts.

      Good luck. You'll do okay.

      Thanks for reading.
      Sunni

      Delete
    2. My cataracts are in the so-called early stages and I understand there is no 'fix' with glasses or contacts. I go back in November for next check-up. Jim still has to wear glasses and he hates them!

      Delete
  2. Interesting to read a patient's perspective of the surgery. I type a lot of reports of the procedure itself but it was good to hear the process from your viewpoint. Hope you won't need glasses either!

    Betty

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    Replies
    1. Betty,

      I wanted to relate my experience so that it will benefit others, hopefully.

      Yes, not having glasses would be very nice. :-)

      Thanks for reading.
      Sunni

      Delete
  3. Thanks for sharing your experience, Sunni, as hubs has his appointment in late September. Hope yours continues to improve! Not looking forward to this as he is still recovering from a heart attack two years ago, but his vision has declined in the last year. Our eyes are so important, that it makes us all a little squeamish. . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DG,

      I'm sure your hubby will do fine. Following the doctor's orders is very important.

      Eyes are the most precious organ we have. Without them, we would all be totally lost. It's extremely important to take care of them.

      Thanks for reading.
      Sunni

      Delete
  4. Glad it's done. I think you said it went well. I can't read any more. I'm too squeamish, so I'll just wish you well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Liz,

      It surprises me you're squeamish. You may have to go through this one day. I think it went well but I still may need readers - not sure yet. My appt is the 10th. I'm not using them unless I have to though.

      Thanks for reading part of this. :-)

      Sunni

      Delete
  5. After suffering with the early onset of cataracts it was quite an upsetting and frightening time for me,but the team at the Eye Clinic London were wonderful.They were so reassuring and knowing that they specialised in cataract surgery was a weight off my mind. The aftercare service was wonderful and I was taken care of every step of the way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jamaal,

      That's wonderful! I'm glad you had a great experience. It definitely pays to see a doctor that specializes in cataracts. I hope the future is very nice for you and you are glasses free.

      Sunni

      Delete
  6. Hi Sunni! I'm glad to read that your procedure went well and wish you continued success. I'm about to undergo the procedure on both eyes. I am OK with, and understand the procedure -- the truth is I'm scared to death of the Versed. I'm much more frightened of the sedation than I am of the procedure or recovery. Any advice would be appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. KDS

      I'm sure you'll do fine. Of course it's scary. It was for me too. You are never knocked out during the procedure like you are for regular surgery so I really wouldn't worry about the sedation part. They put numbing solution in your eyes and and the needle in your arm is only like a tranquilizer to relax you. You won't be asleep at all so the doctor can talk to you during the surgery and give you instructions. The procedure isn't all that bad even if it is nerve wracking. The hardest thing is to remain perfectly still and stare up at a light, but the doctor will tell you all this. I was afraid I would move and didn't want the doctor to slip while cutting on my eye.

      I'm sure you'll be okay. You can discuss your concerns beforehand. Now your vision will be very blurry after (like looking through a dense fog) but it will get better. This blurriness lasts two - three days. Be sure you use all the eye drops as instructed by your doctor. And tape that shield on your eye for the first view days when you're sleeping. It's really a nuisance but you'll get through it. You may even find yourself wearing sunglasses in the house too at first because everything will be so much brighter. Definitely wear the sunglasses outside ro limit any UVA and UVB rays.

      I'd like to have you respond back after it's over and let me know you're okay. I think trying to stay calm about the whole thing is very important.

      Thanks for writing.
      Sunni

      Delete
  7. Thanks for sharing this experience ....get aware of the cataract surgery cost in Kolkata by the experienced eye surgeons.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amar,

      Thanks for visiting my blog.

      Sunni

      Delete
  8. This is the first time i am reading your post and admire that you posted article which gives users lot of information regarding cataract surgery thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Abdul,

      I know everyone's experience is different but I wanted to help shed some light on what might happen for anyone contemplating this surgery. I glad you found this post informative.

      Sunni

      Delete

Thank you for stopping by to read and
comment on my posts. I appreciate it.
Sunni