"Cataract Surgery - funny and so successful"

About: Sydney / Sydney Eye Hospital

(as the patient),

I have just had a cataract operation- a new lens was put in my right eye. What would follow I wondered? The experience was quite interesting as well as moving.

In the morning before the op, many staff came to me to do some tasks. Four times I was asked what I came in for. I managed to avoid the classical joke about castration and circumcision. One man came in and said, Hi, I'm Travers, I will be looking after you today. I thought he might be a sort of community volunteer for those needing some comfort. Later I found out from the Operation Report that he was the surgeon - modest indeed.

They told me the operation itself would take 1 hour, but I was too sedated to sense anything.

On my return the next day, the bandage came off. Then I understood the moment we are currently seeing on TV: "What did he say? " Fred Hollows asks. "He says he can see! "

Vision as I have not known it for decades. I didn’t get to see Travers then because his wife was giving birth. Travers, consider yourself thanked!

What now? They told me to pop out the R lens from my specs and keep wearing them, until the second eye is done. Disaster! The thick lenses in my old specs (-7 diopters (d)) have heavy distortion, so objects now appeared different sizes, shapes, positions, color and motions in my two eyes. My brain could not fuse the two scenes. I was unable to walk along the corridor, and felt seasick trying. The world looked like a Dali painting.

So I ditched the glasses altogether, and now both images mesh nicely (as they haven't for a long time). One image is crisp and one severely blurred, but no matter, the brain seems to ignore that problem. They warned me that the greatest side-effect was tripping, but I found immediately that my feet and stairs were exactly where I expected - actually a big improvement.

I have discovered my computer screen is covered in dust, and my phone has pixels. I can read street signs before I get to them. I can hail a bus before it sails past. I can read the slides in a physics talk (I used to sit in the front row). I have to stop myself saying - There is an error in equation 3. My right eye is near perfect.

Some technical matters: I purchased some lens sets and have been experimenting with my vision for some time. It’s based on physics. I did an analysis of my visual habits and priorities (available on request). I was offered a monofocal lens - there are more advanced types but these are not covered on government benefits.

I asked for a focus at 0. 5 m (2 diopters) for optimal computer use and reading. They inserted a Ziess SRK/T, of refractive index 1. 3385, predicted to give me 1. 99 d, and the result is very close. I have crystal clear reading in one eye, and also (by wearing some -2 d specs from 30 years ago) perfect distance vision.

In a few months they will do my left eye. Based on advice from friends who have already had it done, I plan to ask for distant focus, so (along with the intermediate right eye) hopefully the brain can select the clearest parts of each image. My experience to date backs this up.

OPSM did a good job to compensate for my past problems, but now they have lost a big account. Maybe I will resume tennis (I quit when I failed to see the ball coming and kept getting hit in the face).

Thanks taxpayers for my best Christmas present ever. (This site does not accept images, but I prepared a cartoon showing Santa stepping into a dunny, thinking it is a chimney pot, and the caption says - An embarrassing mistake prompted Santa to get his cataracts seen to. )

I have a strong urge to visit the miracle-cures centre of Lourdes in France, and throw my large collection of spectacles onto the pile of discarded crutches. While shouting to the devout masses - Try science-based medicine, it really works!

Responses

Response from Jennie Barry, General Manager, Prince of Wales/Sydney/Sydney Eye Hospital

Dear Scientist view

What a fabulous and very insightful perspective of your experience following cataract surgery. It was a delight to read and I felt I was on the journey with you.

It is not often that we are fortunate enough to hear the patients perspective in relation to the changes our surgery's make to their lives. Your story has provide us such an insight to the functional changes people need to make following surgery. We will share your story to provide education to our staff. I will ensure Dr Travers receives your feedback and thanks.

As you were not able to post your Santa Cartoon with your story, I invite you to email it to me on SESLHD-SSEHExecutiveServices@health.nsw.gov.au and we will include it with your story.

Thank you for taking the time to post such a personal reflection on Patient Opinion. All the best for your upcoming second cataract surgery.

Kind regards

Jennie

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