I don't think it is an overstatement to say that cataract surgery is a modern medical miracle. That said, there is some archaeological evidence that as far back as ancient Rome, surgery may have been performed to treat cataracts.
But it certainly was not accurate or as safe as today or in widespread use. Plus, they didn't have the chemicals for dilation and anesthesia we have nor the tiny instruments that make cataract surgery today as routine as any invasive procedure can be.
So blindness from cataracts was common until 20th century surgery techniques were developed and I sometimes think we - well, me anyway - take our modern miracles too much for granted.
Here is me on Monday an hour or so after I returned home from having my second cataract surgery done.
Even though my eye was still dilated and that protective cover limited my vision when I took that selfie, I could already clearly see things at a distance – something I have not been able to do without eyeglasses or contact lenses since I was ten years old, more than 60 years.
In choosing my new options, I repeated the “monovision” I have used with contact lenses for the past 30 years: my left eye is corrected for reading and other closeup work; my right eye for distance
I am thrilled to have these “new eyes.”
According to an excellent article at MedicalNewToday (MNT), age is the most common cause of cataracts exacerbated sometmes by underlying health issues.
Every elder should have regular eye examinations and adjust behavior to lower risk of cataracts. Some of the preventive measures below, reports MNT, are proven while there is strong circumstantial evidence for others. They are all things you already know you should be doing:
• Stop smoking
• Nutrition - eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, unrefined carbohydrates, good quality fats (avocado, olive oil, omega oils), and either plant sourced proteins or lean animal sourced proteins
• Sleep - make sure you get at least seven hours of good quality, continuous sleep every night
• Obesity - obesity significantly raises the risk of developing diabetes type 2, which in turn is an important cataract risk factor
• Diabetes - be careful to have your diabetes under control; follow your treatment plan assiduously
The MNT article is the best I've found to explain pretty much everything you need to know about cataracts - risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, surgery and recovery.
In time, I will become accustomed to my new eyes and the thrill will fade. But right now, for a few days, I intend to wallow in the joy and excitement of the clearest vision I can recall having in my life.
At The Elder Stortytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: Cycles