Saturday, January 30, 2021

Double Vision


Although I personally did not start the issues with my eyes with double vision, it is a common symptom of possibly having cataracts. Before I developed cataracts, I really did not have the knowledge that I wish I had known before my diagnosis. I now am learning as I go. Better late than never.

First of all, we all have heard of those around us who have the surgery and feel wonderful afterwards. I always mistakenly thought that it usually happened to the elderly. Let me tell you right now...I am not elderly. At least I don't consider myself elderly.

My yearly eye doctor appointment has always been a part of my life. My previous year's visit, he mentioned that he saw just a "touch" of the start of cataracts. He also said that he has seen that start last for ten years before anything needs to be done on many patients. It turns out that he saw the same thing in my husband's eyes. When we went in this year, Steve passed through with flying colors. Me? Not so much. I knew that I was not seeing clearly and simply thought that my prescription needed to be adjusted some. However, when my eye doctor showed me the vision that he could take me to compared to what I have now - it was still blurry and not great. That was what the cataract was doing to my vision. He said he could get the change that he just showed me in my glasses or I could get cataract surgery in order to take the cloudiness away. My response was to let me think about it.

Really, to tell the truth, when I got in the car and all the way home I held it in and then burst out in tears as we pulled in the driveway. By talking it out with my husband and daughter, and getting over the shock, I decided that it was not a bad thing. Talking to friends who have had it done gave me hope that the surgery was easy and I would be so happy to see clearly again. Possibly without glasses. Since I have worn glasses and contacts since I was 12, this was a great incentive.

I did a little research and found out that a cataract is a dense, cloudy area that forms in the lens of the eye. It begins when proteins in the eye form clumps that prevent the lens from sending clear images to the retina. Usually, it develops slowly and eventually interferes with your vision. I also continued to read that you may end up with cataracts in both eyes but they don't always form at the same time. Also they are common in older people, with over half of people in the United States having undergone cataract surgery by the time they are 80. Really? I am not near 80.

Some of the symptoms were there for me such as the blurry vision, feeling as if I needed a new prescription lens, night vision bothering me, and sensitivity to glare. I always wear sunglasses, as this is not a new symptom. The sun really bothers my eyes. Also, never have I enjoyed driving at night. The other symptoms that can happen are seeing double, halos surrounding lights, tinting of the eyes and colors fading.

Also, I did not have a totally cloudy eye visible to myself or anyone looking at my eyes. Cataracts can be extremely debilitating that can cause major problems in someone's life. They do not happen to everyone. It is usually through aging (there is that word again) and is a discoloration of the eye lens which alerts the person to their condition. Unless you are like me and simply clueless. Just believing that all I needed was a new pair of glasses. 

Some people think they can delay the eventual surgery by wearing sunglasses and not smoking. Yes, in my research some of the possible causes of cataracts are smoking, diabetes, radiation therapy, long term use of steroids, other eye conditions and eye trauma. I did go through radiation therapy for breast cancer, but who knows if that helped spur my catartacts on? And, I know smoking is not good for you but I for one am sick and tired of smoking being the cause of a hang nail to a heart attack. If doctors would just not blame smoking on everything, then I believe more people would quit if the medical industry stuck to the big reasons to not smoke. When I see 80 plus year old women smoking with no side effects and then hear of a 40 year old who died of lung cancer who never smoked, it throws up questions to be answered. 

I do know that radiation therapy and certain hormonal drugs that were prescribed to me caused havoc on my body after my cancer surgery. There are different kinds of cataracts from nuclear cataracts, secondary cataracts, trauma cataracts, posterior cataracts, radiation cataracts, congenital cataracts (infants), and cortical cataracts. I suppose it really does not matter (except to the surgeon) which kind you develop. Something needs to be done.

What is most important is having your doctor perform a comprehensive eye exam to check for cataracts and to assess your vision at different distances and tonometry to measure your eye pressure.

Surgery is most definitely recommended when cataracts prevent you from going about your daily activities such as reading and driving. Surgery to remove a cataract is generally very safe and has a high success rate. Most people can go home the same day as their surgery with a driver. 

I can say that the day of the surgery I was better than the next day. I felt a bit of grittiness in my eye on Day 2, which the doctor told me that my dry eye syndrome had a lot to do with that. He was encouraging in letting me know that should go away soon. Plus, sleeping for one week with the plastic cover over my eye was doing a number on my sleep pattern. Luckily, I am able to take a nap to catch up some. One week! I can do this. The other issue, and I am just being honest...four weeks with no eye make-up is a big dot deal for me. So I suppose it is good that we are in a stay home safe mode for Covid. When we do go pick up groceries or drive through pharmacy, I wear my dark sunglasses.  

In just two weeks from my left eye operated on, I will have my right eye done. I can honestly say that I can't wait. Yesterday when I woke from my nap and opened my eyes, I was amazed that out of my left eye I was seeing so clearly. It really was a huge difference in what I was seeing out of my right which is most definitely still blurry. So the good news is, cataract surgery is a pretty simple process that has very few risks, and it has enormous benefits including eliminating the symptoms of cataracts that lowered my quality of life in the first place.


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