Part I is here.
By Christopher Lane
At the end of April I met with my surgeon, Dr. Elizabeth Davis, to discuss my upcoming cataract surgery. Dr. Davis is an ophthalmologist associated with Minnesota Eye Consultants [there is music at the link—just in case you're somewhere where you shouldn't be surfing —Ed.] and is a graduate of Cornell, Johns Hopkins and Harvard. Her sub-specialty is corneal, cataract, and refractive surgery. After our interview, I felt very comfortable with her training and experience. After conducting a series of tests to confirm that I did indeed have cataracts, Dr. Davis advised me that the surgery was required, the sooner the better. We scheduled my right eye for the end of May.
During the procedure, which takes about ten minutes, my natural lens was replaced with a plastic one. My doctor has chosen a TECNIS Aspheric Intraocular Lens (IOL) manufactured by Abbot. The TECNIS IOL is an acrylic wavefront lens with an aspheric design. Wavefront analysis involves beaming light into the eye and then "mapping" how light waves travel after they are reflected off the inner back of the eye (the retina). Wavefront analysis allows lens manufacturers to design lenses that are able to correct common refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism). According to Abbot, the TECNIS IOL can improve functional and night-driving vision. Also according to Dr. Davis, the TECNIS IOL is the equivalent of a Leica or Zeiss camera lens.
On May 24th, I was admitted to have my right eye done. I was amazed at how pain-free the entire process was from the insertion of the IV right through recovery. At no time was a bothered by any pain at all. In addition, all of the medical personnel that I encountered tried to put my mind at ease, recognizing that this can be a nerve-wracking experience.
Once I was prepped, an IV was inserted to administer some sedative during the process. No general anesthetic is used, but local anesthesia is administered directly to the eye. A Zeiss microscope, which uses a brilliant white light for illumination, is lowered on to the eye. I then experienced what I can only describe as a helluva psychedelic light show, swirls of color—red, purple, blue, orange and some without names. Apparently this is very common and it sure takes your mind off what’s going on, which, incidentally, you are well aware of since the team is communicating with you. The entire procedure took eight minutes from beginning to end. Before I knew it I was whisked away to the recovery room for some juice and pretzels.
I had the second surgery on June 14th and the experience was much the same. I wondered about the lack of any pain and the optometrist informed me that there are no nerve endings in that particular area hence no pain. Total recovery will take about 40 days for each eye.
The only thing that I can criticize about the whole experience is the underestimation of the recovery period. Immediately after the surgery I was effectively blind in that eye so I couldn’t drive. Although I could see light and shape it was like looking through a very thick fog bank. It was two days before I could see well enough to return to work and over a week before everything was back to normal.
Well, not exactly normal. My vision is vastly improved. Everything is extremely sharp and colors are much more vivid and true. I am really seeing again. Unfortunately, the surgery did not improve my near vision so, at some point, I will have to use reading glasses. Although no one likes to go through surgery, cataracts are no longer the life sentence they once were. Just find a good doctor and get them taken care of. You won’t regret it—and I bet your photography improves as well as your vision.
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.