Seeing with New Eyes —by Jinny Batterson
This was the year when my eye doctor pronounced my cataracts “ripe” and ready for removal. I’d noticed some increasing difficulties judging pavement curbs, especially at night, and a gradual dulling of colors. Worsening eyesight is one of the impediments that often come with aging. I relied on the eye doctor to know the difference between mild cataracts and those challenging my vision enough to merit being taken out. After some additional tests that involved shining bright lights in my eyes while asking me to read an eye chart, I was pronounced “ready” and scheduled for eye measurements, then outpatient surgery in both eyes.
Some of my friends and relatives have required bionic replacement knees, shoulders, hips, wrists or ankles. So far for me, the original appendages have functioned adequately and not pained me unduly. I count myself lucky. However, I depend heavily on eyes that function “well enough” and hadn’t had surgery for a good while. I was nervous.
Doctors, nurses, and technicians did their best to explain my options, then prep me for surgery. They patiently talked me through what would happen and how I would likely react. The strangest thing seemed that, post-surgery, I might no longer require eyeglasses for distance vision. This prospect seemed doubly odd to someone who has worn glasses since childhood, except for a couple of early adult years when I tried out contact lenses to improve my looks. (My contacts adventure ended rather abruptly one night when I forgot to thoroughly wash my hands after cooking with chili peppers.) I vowed that I’d be extra careful in following the prescribed post-op instructions for these new, bionic lenses that would sit within my eyeballs.
Because of some travel plans, it wasn’t practical for me to have both eyes processed in a short period of time. Instead, I spent about three weeks with one eye “post-op” and the other “pre-op.” The optical shop kindly removed the external lens from my glasses for my post-op eye, but coordination between the two eyes between eye operations was off a bit. Now both eyes are new. I’ve started getting accustomed to my changed vision, though I still limit my exposure to bright lights and avoid interstate highways. I don’t drive much after dark.
Once my eyes stabilize, my near vision will likely need assistance from reading glasses. Perhaps reading less of the daily news is at this point a boon. Our society seems caught in frequent cycles of “us vs. them” and “win/lose” games. While temporarily appropriate in athletic contests, such scorekeeping in other aspects of life can too often lead toward “all vs. all” and “lose/lose.”
Each morning when I wake up, I relish my new physical eyes; I try to remind myself to reorient my metaphysical eyes as well.