Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cataract Surgery - What to Expect.

Em's in the middle of getting cataract surgery. That means that he's had the surgery on one eye, but not on the other eye. That means that he can see pretty well out of one eye WITH his glasses and pretty well out of one eye WITHOUT his glasses, but he can't see out of both eyes either way. We'd thought that replacing one lens with clear glass would help in the interim before he gets his other eye done, but it doesn't ... because his correction is monocular. His left eye is corrected to be his reading eye and his right eye is corrected to be his distance eye and he's trained his eyes for years to work independent of each other. He had the surgery on his left eye (his reading eye), so he can read perfectly without glasses. He could read perfectly without glasses before the surgery, too, if he got the material within 2" of his eyes, so no BIG change there.

It seems that if you live long enough, pretty much everyone eventually gets cataracts. It's nice to know what to expect. Em was very, very scared. First, the thought of someone sticking a knife in his eye wasn't comforting. Secondly, he heard his doctor talk of possible complications in a louder voice than he heard how safe the procedure is. He found no reason to believe that he'd be one of the 999 of 1,000. Third, he was told that the procedure would be performed under local anesthetic and he thought that meant he'd be aware that they were sticking a knife in his eye. I assure you he wasn't aware of much that day. They gave him some GOOD drugs and while he could walk and talk, the day of surgery is pretty much a missed day in his life.

Surgeries for each eye are spaced out with two weeks inbetween IF there are no complications. The eye doctor gave him some pills and drops to use before surgery and 3 types of drops to use 4 times/day after surgery (for two weeks). In addition to the drops, he's scheduled with two doctor visits ... one the first day after surgery and (if everything looks okay) another a week and a day after surgery. While it's out-patient surgery, it's treated as "SURGERY!". He had to get his regular doctor's approval for the surgery, which his doctor only gave after a complete physical exam complete with chest X-ray and EKG. After surgery, he's advised not to do anything much in the way of physical activity. He can't lift anything 25 lbs or more, can't lean over, can't rub his eye, can't allow water to get in his eye [no showering facing the shower], no hot-tub (smile), etc. To ensure that he doesn't rub his eye, he has to wear a patch whenever he sleeps.


This Thursday we go back to see if he screwed up his eye lifting or bending. It's hard to stop yourself if you feel okay and you're accustomed to doing things like tying your own shoes.

If that eye is okay, he'll go through the same procedure next week on the other eye. THEN, after the two week period is over, he should be in a position to know if he'll need to wear glasses in addition to the lens implant (to correct his astigmatism) or if he'll be able to see good enough without them. Some people see well enough for a while and then get corrective glasses later.

Fortunately, Astrid doesn't weigh 25 lbs yet, so Em was able to swing her our first day of baby-sitting her. She's a good baby, but we enjoyed holding her even when she didn't demand it.




Diane said...

I don't blame Em. Eye surgery would freak me out, too! I hope he heals nicely and the second eye is an "easy" surgery, too.


Farmer's Daughter said...

Congrats on babysitting Astrid!!!