If you read my previous post about discovering I had cataracts, you may be wondering how I got on with my operations. We are all different, so individual circumstances will vary, but if you are considering cataract surgery you may find this post helpful.
Operation One: Right Eye
I had been told that I wasn’t allowed to wear my contact lenses for a week before the first operation. This was to allow my eyes to return to their natural curvature. Which, being vain (God knows why!) meant that I hunkered down at home wearing my pebble spex, hiding from the outside world apart from a quick dash to the supermarket or to drive Husband to the train station.
The big day arrives. As I waited at the eye hospital, I felt numb with nerves despite Husband occasionally squeezing my hand encouragingly. I got a text from my Marvellous-Mother-In-Law which read: “The anticipation is the worst bit” which did the trick and I relaxed (a bit).
I was escorted to the operating theatre’s ante-room where a nurse checked all my details and asked if I had any questions. I asked what would happen if I made an involuntary movement – a cough or a sneeze? After double checking I didn’t have a cold, she told me the relaxant I would be given is so potent that people just don’t move, even though they are awake through the operation. A second nurse put numbing drops in my eyes (painless but highly effective). So far, easy peasy…
This took about 15 mins and then the anaesthetist came in and led me into the operating room where the surgeon was waiting. You wear your own clothes, they just ask you to remove your jewellery (or put tape over it for you). I laid down on a trolley which had a spoon like area at the top into which you rest your head.
A tiny intravenous cannula was put into the back of my hand. I did not feel a thing except that, in a millisecond, the sedative hit home and I was very woozy and happily chatting (or was it mumbling?!) to the surgeon. Any anxiety I had completely disappeared. Some surgeons use Midazolam (related to Valium), others use Propofol – an experienced anaesthetist can achieve anything from slight drowsiness to a complete general anaesthetic.
I could not see or feel anything during the operation. I vaguely remember chatting with the surgeon, but nothing else. This is because the relaxant both sedates and renders you temporarily amnesiac. It took about 45 minutes to replace my lens and remove my floaters (vitrectomy). It felt more like 30 seconds. The next thing I was aware of was sitting in an armchair drinking a delicious cup of tea and feeling pleasantly groggy. I couldn’t see out of my right eye because they had put a protective patch on it. But no pain whatsoever. I was given various drops and instructions on how to use them for the next four weeks.
That night. I’m not going to lie. There was a tiny part of me that worried about whether the operation had worked. Would I be able to see when I took the patch off?
The next morning I nervously took off the patch – had the op gone to plan? Thankfully, I could see. And see clearly. Although warned about discharge there was barely any. My eye was pretty bloodshot but there was no discomfort. After 50 years of viewing the world as an indistinct blurry mess until I popped in my contact lenses each morning, this was pretty much a miracle as far as I was concerned. I noticed some flashing light on the periphery of my right eye. This is normal while your eye heals if a little disconcerting. Wrap around sunglasses helped. As did chatting through my concern about this with the nurse who rang me from the hospital to check I was OK.
The following days My vision was very good in my right eye but I still needed a contact lens in my left. That worked really well. However, as I sometimes wanted to put on my spex, we took out the right lens from the frame but, oddly, you get quite strong double vision unless you cover your good eye.
I noticed that colours look crisper and brighter. The flashing gradually stopped. A couple of floaters were still in evidence but they disappeared after about a week. Certainly won’t miss them!
I was back to driving within a day or two.
Operation 2: The Left Eye
To be honest, I couldn’t wait to have the second op. No nerves this time and again, it went without a hitch. Apart from a skilled surgeon, this was in no small part due to the kind, calm, nothing-is-too-much-trouble attitude of every single member of staff that I encountered.
The left eye was much quicker. About 10 minutes. And, again, there was plenty of anaesthetic given to me (drops from the nurse as before, drops from the surgeon and then an injection to numb the iris – none of which I felt) so it was pain-free. Best of all I could see perfectly.
The next four weeks. My new life without dependency on contact lenses or glasses is wonderful! I love waking up in the morning and being able to see. Haven’t been able to do that for half a century! Despite being given a chart to tick, I kept forgetting to put in my various eye drops at the correct time but I’ve almost finished my course now. And not being allowed to wear eye make up for a fortnight after each op has been a minor nuisance but, hey, I have new 20/20 eyes now!
I was supposed to continue wearing reading glasses but I have found I rarely need them – an added bonus.
Obviously sight is a terribly precious sense. On very rare occasions there are complications from surgery, so we should never be complacent. Surgeons use varying methods of sedation and have different levels of expertise. But if you do your homework and find a proficient surgeon there should be nothing to worry about. Please note that this is my personal experience of having eye surgery performed privately using my health insurance. My surgeon was Andrew Luff at Optegra. There’s a complete review on their website if you’d like to see it – just click here.
Talking of looking after your eyes, read Annabel’s post on a special reading light that she has reviewed.