Cataract Surgery, Part 3

It’s now been almost six months since my first cataract surgery, and three months since I got my ‘final’ set of glasses. How have things gone so far? Turns out a lot of this writeup is a confirmation of my first impressions from Cataracts 2.

As I said then, cataract surgery shifts you from an infinite-focus biological system to a fixed focus mechanical-optical system. Most of the time that’s not a problem, but you do have to learn new techniques, like, focusing with your arms.

Keep in mind that my right eye is set for medium distance, say 10 to 40 feet, and my left eye is set for close vision, anything under about three feet. My regular glasses are designed to correct that vision (plus some astigmatism) for both eyes, and my computer glasses are designed to work best at about three feet, also for both eyes. I actually haven’t noticed the difference — I don’t find myself staring one-eyed at a page, like I was a character out of True Grit — but some of the issues I have noticed may stem from that. Here’s a breakdown

Long Distance. That’s everything over about fifty feet. With glasses on, no problems. With glasses off, not much of a problem. I can pass the WA state driver’s test without glasses, but my clear vision degrades noticeably beyond the 50-60 foot range. At night, there’s some glare from headlights. Left (near vision) eye has foggy glare. Right (medium vision) eye is more spiky, like you get on star photos with a Newtonian telescope.

Medium Distance. As in, walking around the house naked (well, naked eyeballs). No problems, except that I have to get closer to the bookcase to read the backs of the books. Before the operation I had to get close, even with glasses, and BC (before cataracts) I had to be right up against the bookcase if I had my glasses off.

PC Distance. About three feet. Ideal distance is 27″, but with my adjustable desk, 36″ is about as close as I can get. Comfort and clarity depends on the font, and on the size of the font. No glasses is more comfortable than wearing my regular glasses, and even with my PC glasses I sometimes have to bump up the size. I am thinking of getting remeasured at my next appointment

Reading Distance. Anything from 6-18″. Depends on the font and spacing. The bifocal part of my regular glasses is best at about 18″, but only in a very narrow viewing angle. Standard Dollar Store reading glasses work best at about six inches. Part of the issue is that I seem to have lost, not peripheral vision, but peripheral acuity. Reading now requires a certain amount of head movement, instead of eye scanning. The acuity itself seems to be variable — the same page can be clear as a bell, and then suddenly hard too read — but that might be a case of needing to train my eyes, or maybe problems that come when my eyes are tired.

My eyes get dry and tired more often, and I use a lot of eyedrops. I use a thick kind (Systane Balance) right before I turn the lights out at night (the bottle is next to the bed), and standard ones when I get up in the morning, and maybe a couple times during the day. The right eye is the one that healed more slowly, and it’s the one that dries out first. I have found that a more varied routine helps. I’m using a timer to limit my PC time (good for me in many ways), reading with and without glasses, doing things around the house with and without glasses.

One minor irritation of having my different viewing regimes overlap is that I’ll get up from the PC and wander about the house with my PC glasses on, and then complain about my vision. Or I’ll sit down at the PC with no glasses, and complain after a few minutes. In the old days, if I stood up or sat down with the wrong glasses on, I knew it immediately.

I’m glad I did it. My brain is still coming to grips with changing a half-century of habits, and that’s always a chore. I find I have new limitations, but they are better than the old limitations. At least now I can survive without glasses, if necessary, even if I have to have two pair to operate effectively. Yeah, I’d do it again.

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