If you are reading this post without giving a second thought to whether you can see it clearly, count your blessings. Most of us, even if we wear glasses, take for granted that an occasional update in our prescription is all we’ll ever need.
It can get more complicated than that, however, and I’ve been on a bit of a vision roller coaster since the first of the year. My first eye surgery, a dual procedure for both cataract (intraocular lens implant) and glaucoma (non-penetrating trabeculectomy), was January 9. That day, in one hour, I went from decent vision (with glasses) to not being able to see well enough to drive. The operated eye was so blurred it was almost useless, and it was two weeks before it cleared enough for me to drive. Still, the other eye was functioning, so I could watch TV, work on the computer, etc.
The lingering double vision in the eye didn’t clear up until the last two (of six) stitches were removed seven weeks after surgery. (Stitches put tension on the surface of the eye and can blur vision.) Suddenly the gimpy eye was the better eye. It was like having a new HD TV. My video games never looked better. It was amazing. With the addition of new glasses, my distance vision was sharper than it had been in years.
That lasted about three weeks. Then yesterday I got the other eye done. Now, suddenly, for the first time in my life, I can’t see up close. I can’t read how long to nuke the frozen dinner. I can’t read the date on my watch. I can’t read the labels on my meds, including the three different kinds of drops I’m having to put in the eye four times a day (now I understand why each prescription eye drop has a different colored top). In a few weeks I’ve swung from not being able to drive to not being able to read.
I’m at the beginning of another seven-week period of waiting for all the stitches to come out and then getting another new pair of prescription glasses.
It’s crazy. Since yesterday morning, I’ve been watching TV without glasses, something I haven’t done in 40 years. I’m quite confident I could drive to the store tomorrow if I wanted to — without glasses (which raises an interesting question about the eyeglasses restriction on my license). The trade-off is I’ve abruptly joined the ranks of those whose arms aren’t long enough for reading. Until now, I’ve never needed glasses for close work. Now I can’t read without them. This will be my new normal and it’s permanent; the implanted lenses are for distance only. Unnerving. Blindness of a different sort.
Reading this screen is a struggle right now and I don’t know how much I’ll be reading or writing for a while. I’ve been given some advice about choosing some drugstore reading glasses, but I don’t know how much they’ll help. It’s probably going to be another frustrating seven weeks.
By the time all this is over, it will have been a very long spring — but worth every minute. Cataracts gradually blur and dim vision and glaucoma leads to blindness. But modern microsurgery can do wonders for both. I am grateful to be living in the 21st Century.