July, 2012 Cataract Surgery Revisited The other day I visited my eye doctor. The reason had nothing to do with cataracts and I promise to write about why I went another time. However, being required to spend some time in the waiting room, I noticed a stand-up plastic-coated copy of an article I wrote about my cataract surgery 15 years ago. I couldn’t believe my doctor was still using it, and decided to reread it. I had not done so since I wrote it. It was interesting…. I didn’t recall that I’d been frightened by the darkness experienced after my first eye was done, and that later my doctor told me it was due to a drug used after surgery to pull everything into an anatomical position, which constricts the pupil. What made me go to my eye specialist in the first place at the time? Well, I’d just returned from a trip to Europe, where I realized just how bad my vision was. At home, I am familiar with neighborhood streets and know where things are in my local market, but I discovered I was unable to read street signs in unfamiliar cities, or those in strange underground systems. Overhead signs in grocery markets were a total mystery. Next time you’re at your market, instead of walking right to where you know things are, look up and check to see if you can read the signage. When you drive home, see if you can read the street signs even if you already know where you are. If you have difficulty, it may be time for a visual check-up. And when should you opt for cataract surgery? My doctor said when it interferes with your vision and your life. He explained that the indications are very personal. As for the actual surgery, I remember that I was fully awake during the procedure. I didn’t feel any pain, although I didn’t like having my eye braced open for so long and found the bright light shining directly at it rather uncomfortable. But then, after my own lens was removed, I was so distracted by the fantastic colors I saw I forgot about anything else. There was a liquid rainbow separated into strange, beautifully ragged, pulsating, unusual shapes of such intense brightness, I forgot to be anxious — and soon it was all over. When I later described this experience to my daughter as being like “an acid trip”, Susan was amused. “And how do you know what an acid trip is like, Mom?” She asked. I didn’t really. I just had never experienced anything like it and imagined that’s what it would be like.