In my mind I’m already going blind

Well, after much phone tag between me and the doctor’s receptionist we finally have the dates nailed down for my eye surgery. I’ll be having my eyes measured on May 21, the left eye lens replaced on June 7th, and the right eye lens replaced on July 5th.

At first I wondered why they couldn’t do both eyes at the same time but then quickly realized that would leave me blind for a day or more. I’m much more okay with this option. Although it does make me wonder about glasses and whether or not I’ll have much use of my left eye between the two surgeries or if I’m going to have to get my glasses changed one lens at a time as well.

I’m definitely not looking forward to the surgery, or the recovery period afterward, but I am very much looking forward to being able to read the ingredient lists on food packaging again. Not that ingredient lists are all that entertaining to read, but it’s really disturbing to realize there’s just a point at which you can’t focus on something enough to identify it. It’s rather scary, actually. The thought that keeps going through my mind whenever I can’t read something is a single note of panic with the phrase “I’m going blind” repeating over and over again.

I’m getting older, no question, but I feel I’m far too young for changes like this.

It doesn’t help that both the optometrist and the surgeon agree with me on that point. They all keep asking me “are you *sure* you don’t have diabetes?” which doesn’t help my panic level at all. Apparently cataracts don’t normally happen in someone my age without some other factor involved, usually diabetes.

To answer the question before anyone else asks it again, yes, I have been tested and no, I do not have diabetes. Although the repeated asking has made sure I get myself checked every year now. If I do develop diabetes I want to know about it early.

Now that I have the dates marked on the calendar I’m left impatiently waiting for them to arrive. I want my eyes fixed and I want it now. I want them fixed while I can still see well enough to read the road signs as I’m driving. I’m already having to use brighter and brighter light in order to simply read a book, and the lights of oncoming traffic glares almost painfully when I drive at night. And now that I know what the problem is and that there’s a fix available for it I can’t stop focusing on it.

I start thinking: “If it’s this hard for me to get a job while I can still read, imagine how hard it would be for me to get a job if I go blind.”

It just kind of adds to the pressure.

I’ve been reassured by the optometrists and surgeons that cataract surgery has become incredibly routine, that even the elderly recover from it in a day, two at most. (and internally I’m grateful for the implication from the statement, that I’m not old *yet*)

Still, I’m not going to shake this fear of going blind until I’m through both surgeries and fully recovered. The odds against any complications are very small, but as one surgeon pointed out there is *always* risk in *any* surgery.

Now I’m going to go off and do something else to try and take my mind off of this.

Eye wear my son glasses at night

Yep, itll have to come out.

Yep, it'll have to come out.

Went to the optometrist today. Received both some reassuring and disturbing news.

As I’d mentioned before when my mother was my age she was changing eyeglass prescriptions more and more frequently. By her late forties she was getting new lenses every six months or so. At the time I’d attributed it to her work, retouching film negatives with brushes as small as a single hair in size.

Well, my eyesight has been bothering me in increasing amounts over the past couple of years. I’ve gone through a couple of different eyeglass prescriptions already, and this after my prescription hadn’t changed in over twenty years. I started to worry that I’d wind up with my vision degrading as fast as my mother’s did.

I found out last year that I have a cataract on the lens of my left eye. My optometrist strongly suggested I get a physical in case this was indicative of something more. I followed her suggestion and, thankfully, found myself to be still fat but otherwise healthy. (and with cholesterol still lower than Ronya’s, a fact that continues to driver her nuts)

Today I found out that my right eye is also developing a cataract. Up until recently my right eye had been compensating for the blur in the left, but that’s no longer the case. Now, unfortunately, it’s time for surgery.

On the one hand I’m nervous because someone is going to be cutting into my eye. On the other hand I’m reassured that it’s an incredibly simple procedure these days and even the elderly that go through it recover easily. It takes about 15 minutes and some local anesthetic. They replace the cloudy lens with an artificial one and, presto, your vision is clear.

Which I’m eager to get, quite honestly. Right now any light source I look at has a foggy corona around it, something that makes driving at night just that much more difficult. I’m thinking I’m going to let Ronya drive at night until I get this fixed.

The downside is that the artificial lens, while clear, isn’t as pliable as the natural lens. This means I will definitely need reading glasses after the surgery is done. Which I’m more or less okay with because I’d kind of like to have reading glasses *now*. I’m already having to pull books away an extra foot or so to be able to read them clearly. Some of that is the cataract but a fair amount of that is simply my aging lenses getting more and more rigid on their own. Replacing them won’t be much of a loss.

The other slight downside is that it *is* a simple procedure done with local anesthetic. If someone is going to operate on my eye part of me would much rather be unconscious for the whole thing. If I’m awake and aware of everything going on I’m going to develop nightmares, I’m sure of it.

So now I have to wait for a specialist to contact me for an appointment, which I’m told will take a month or two, and then we will schedule the surgery, which I’m told could take as much as a year. I’m not in dire need (I’m annoyed but I can still see and function) so others will take precedence.

I’d rather wait the extra time under our current coverage than be able to have ready access to a procedure I can’t afford. At least this way I’ll get it done *eventually*.

In related news, Josh Silver’s self adjustable eyeglasses (which I wrote about here last year) are being talked about again, this time at TED.