Friday, 29 March 2013

Eyes Right

Three days after I last posted, I had a cataract operation.  Phaco-emulsion, they call it - all done by ultrasound these days. You may remember from the dreaded dishwasher post that I had a cataract that had developed more quickly than the optician had expected. When I saw the Eye Consultant in the autumn - I see her regularly because I have a family history of glaucoma, so although I haven't thankfully, got that myself, they are keeping an eye on me, by means of annual photos of my eyes in September, and an appointment with the consultant in November - this, naturally, was discussed as well.

So I was referred for surgery - about a 2 month waiting list, I was told - and just after Christmas had the letter inviting me for a pre-op assessment appointment at the end of January. At the end of that appointment I was given a date for the actual op. of 7th March. Well, that was very pleasing, as I had just been to my folk-dance weekend in Eastbourne, which happens on the last weekend of each January, and the op. date was safely beyond the February folk-dance weekend in Worthing. 

On Monday 4th February - less than a week later - at 09:55, the phone rang. TMH answered, as I was not long out of the shower and still leisurely getting dressed. It was the Eye Unit: 'We've had a cancellation; can you get here for half past ten?' - and then, at my stunned silence: 'Well, quarter to eleven then?' Yes, I could, and still not feeling entirely real, I grabbed a cardigan and we drove down to the hospital, parked in their multi-storey car park, and were on Floor C as directed at 10:35. 

By one o'clock, after a short chat with the surgeon, several lots of eye drops, 15 minutes looking at the light in the operating theatre, and two slices of toast that they insisted I ate, I was home, all done, with a leaflet telling me about eye drops - two different types four times a day for 2 weeks, then one of them twice a day for another two weeks - and a shield over my eye that I was to remove the next day. No chance to get worried or worked up before The Day; no hanging around, no pain, no injections. The whole thing was over and done with before I had time to think about it.

Naturally I rationed my 'screen time' for a while, though my leaflet had told me I could read if it was comfortable to do so. I was a little disgruntled the afternoon of the operation day, as the nurse had told me I shouldn't put my contact lens in the eye that hadn't been done 'until tomorrow'. But when, the following day, I put that lens in, I didn't enjoy the sensation at all! Because my newly inserted left lens was allowing good middle-distance sight, I didn't need the [short-sighted] right eye to be corrected for distance at all! I wanted to be able to read, which without the contact lens, I found I was well able to do ... and to thread a needle, which is even more important  and something I hadn't been able to manage without reading glasses when wearing my contacts beforehand. 

So from having contact lenses that corrected my right eye for distance, and my left eye for reading - but not very small print - this is known as 'monovision' - I am now not using contacts in either eye, and my left eye is the distance one, and my right eye the reading one - which can manage very well with small print. This settled fairly quickly after the op. and happily has continued  so when I go for my post-op appointment next week, and am allowed to go to the opticians - which I have already booked for the end of the week, to be able to see the one I like, who only works there on a Friday - all I will need is a pair of glasses for theatre and driving. I've tried driving a short distance with my old spare glasses, but they are wrong for the left eye, and after a while it feels strained, so I'm eagerly waiting for next week when I can order the new ones. In the meantime, this miraculous op. has enabled me to enjoy seeing the weather out of the window as soon as I wake up, being able to recognise people across a room, and - because my astigmatism has also been partially corrected with the implanted lens - I am no longer getting the sensation that the nearside hedge or kerb is leaping out to get me when I'm being driven; which makes me a calmer passenger for TMH to chauffeur around!

I'm also saving over £20 a month because of no longer needing the lenses or their cleaning/storing solution. Pretty good result, don't you think?

Oh yes, and I went to the February Folk-dance weekend in Worthing, too!


  1. Excellent result! My father, at nearly 90, doesn't wear glasses much since he had his cataracts done five or six years ago. Do you have to have the other eye done as well, or just the one?

    Tell about the February folk-dance weekend in Worthing? My parents live just outside that town, but I don't think I have heard of any folk-dancing here.

  2. Morley College, London, which has had a folk dance class for over 100 years now, has a dancing weekend in Worthing each year - it hasn't quite been going for 100 years, though it is pretty long-established. Although I'm not a member of the class, they welcome other dancers for their weekends. It is usually held on the last weekend of Feb, but sometimes, including next year, it is the first weekend of March.

    I'm sure my friend who lives in Worthing used to go to some country dancing locally - she is too arthritic now, but I could ask her ...

  3. Thanks. Morley College is quite near where I live, so maybe I should look into the folk-dance class. On the other hand, most of my dancing these days is done on ice!

  4. I can give you an email address for someone who organises the weekends and goes to the class, if you like. The teacher isn't on email - I believe it is held on a Thursday evening.