Cataracts: The things I did not see

Sherri Gardner HowellBlount, Farragut, Kitchen Table Talk

I have a lot of useless information in my head that seldom serves any practical purpose in my life.

Like remembering all the lyrics to “Stewball” and the entire Eugene Field’s poem “Little Boy Blue.” I don’t know why some things stick and other, often more important things, don’t. After my cataract surgery this week, I am thinking I should have made some room in my brain for things that matter!

As a journalist by profession, I am innately curious about most everything. I spend a good amount of time looking things up, finding the source of information and just trying to learn about things I don’t know. Except, it now seems, for what happens to the eyes when cataracts form and what the surgery is to fix it.

My husband went first, several years ago. He raved about the outcome of his cataract surgery, noting that glare and driving at night were no longer problems and how much better his already pretty good vision was after the surgery. “Wonderful,” I thought. “I guess getting that cataract off the eye was a good thing indeed.”

Before the glare of sunlight and bright headlights at night began to bother me, my eye doctor, Dr. Gene Price, told me during a routine exam that cataracts were starting to form on both eyes. He told me what to be on the lookout for and when to call him. Six months later, I called. Three months after that, I found I was working cataract surgery into my schedule.

I did no research before my visit to Dr. Price. Here’s what I thought: You have this thing on your eye, maybe like a callus, that is causing you to be super-sensitive to light. It needs to be removed. So, you take out the cataract, and everything goes back to the way it was.

The day before my next visit with Dr. Price – when we would schedule the surgery – I talked to my friend Meg who had already had the surgery. When she began talking about lenses and corrected vision and monovision lenses, my eyes, cataracts and all, almost popped out of my head.

“They take your lens out?” I asked, stupidly. “They put an artificial lens in?”

I am not sure how long the office visit with Dr. Price was supposed to last, but it definitely ran over. When he realized what a dolt I was, he spent 20-plus minutes explaining exactly what cataract surgery was, what artificial lenses were and the myriad of things I might expect on the other side.

I have never believed Ignorance is Bliss, but it sure does keep the anxiety down!

I am now a week post-surgery, and the main problems I am having is remembering those dang drops four-times-a-day and dealing with one eye that is almost 20-20 while the other one is still bad, awaiting my second surgery on March 1. I switch between no glasses – making my “new” eye do all the work – and covering my new, good eye with a patch while I wear my glasses.

Dr. Price told me that my brain was amazing – okay, maybe he said THE brain is amazing – and adapting to the weird “one good eye, one not good” would work out and not drive me too crazy short-term. He has been right, so far, as I have been able to drive, watch television and work on the computer. Things can get a little fuzzy after too long at the computer screen, but it’s manageable.

And my brain seems to have taken in all the new information without issue. Matter of fact, if you want to hear “Stewball” or “Little Boy Blue,” I’m your girl!

Sherri Gardner Howell has been writing about family life for newspapers and magazines since 1987. She lives in West Knoxville, is married to Neville Howell and has two sons and three grandsons. Her newest adventure is as a travel agent with her own company, SGH Go Travel. Email her at [email protected]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *