From Drug Lord to Elder Fitness Guru
Being Good at Being Old

Cataract Miracle

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.

Yeah, but.

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.

Ronni Post Caract Surgery 2014

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

• Exercise

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


Wonderful stuff Ronni, and it's grand to see the new, thinner you too.

How does removing cataracts correct your vision? I am missing something here.

During cataract surgery, the cloudy lens is removed and the implanted lens contains the appropriate prescription (like eye glasses and contact lenses) to give the patient the best vision possible.

In my case, I received the same kind of prescription I used with contact lenses for more than 30 years. It is called "monovision" - one eye corrected for reading and close-up work; the other for distance.

Unlike most people, I have not noticed increased vibrancy of colors. During my day-one checkup yesterday, the doctor explained that people who exclaim about beautiful colors after surgery had the kind of cataracts that involve a yellowish discoloring of the lens that reduces the brightness of colors.

My cataracts were not that kind so the big difference for me is amazing clarity of vision.

Love the info, attitude of gratitude, coif, lean look, tee color (rust/burgundy?).

I've just had the preliminary visit with my cataract surgeon. The papers he gave me to sign were very off-putting. Your post helped me realize that the outcome can be spectacular. Thanks for the inspiration to "just do it!"

I had this surgery
1 year ago in May
and it has been wonderful.
No glasses :)

So marvelous to hear! Thanks for sharing your experience. And ditto all that Tamar said!

And Ronnie, you look positively svelte! Congrats on the weight loss. (says the fatty who can't quite get her butt in the same gear of achievement Ronnie has!)

Congrats on your surgery, Ronni. I felt similarly about mine--that it was a miracle. I also went with the monovision. Most of the time it's terrific. Only at night if I'm doing serious reading, it's more comfortable to also wear a lens (glasses) over the long distance eye. But I love my new eyes, so I understand how you feel.

Didn't you have more noticeable floaters? Most myopic people get posterior vitreous detachments before 60 so earlier than other people. These are often exacerbated after the cataract surgery as you now notice them more. My neighbour finds they are extremely distracting after cataract surgery made his eyesight supposedly clearer.

It's interesting that there is almost no treatment for floaters, you are told to just live with them, one of just another pile of aging symptoms that I knew nothing about. Mine are like fish eggs right in the field of vision.

After both eyes done re: cataract surgery, yes, vision and colors much better. Since both eyes now have the "secondary cataracts" which can develop days, weeks, months or "never", my doc will remove them in April via a 30-second laser surgery. At least they will be done in his office and both eyes at once. I do have to wear prescription glasses for reading, t.v. and distance when driving, etc, but the lenses are much much thinner than before. So yes, it's worth it.

It is wonderful to be able to see well without glasses or contact lenses--something I hadn't been able to do since I was 8 years old.

In terms of preventive measures, Type 2 diabetes puts a person at risk of retinopathy if the disease is not well managed. So one needs to have an annual checkup by an opthamologist for any signs of that disease which may cause blindness.

I, too, had cataract surgery in both eyes. They actually break up and remove your own lenses and replace it with artificial ones that look like they are made from gum wrappers, paper and wire and would last about a week, but which are actually very sturdy. I, too, had to have the laser surgery to remove some spots. I now wear prescription glasses that are clear on top (I can see distances now!, computer strength in the middle and reading strength near the bottom. Works for me! Glasses look good on me, so i don't mind!


It has been 3.5 years since my surgeries and I still consider it life-changing. I did have "yellow" cataracts; so, I was for all practical purposes color-blind for all but the brightest hues. I chose not to have corrective lenses inserted as I have worn glasses for so long that I would feel naked without them! (They are a part of me!)

Congratulations on your new vision. I had cataract surgery years ago and do not wear glasses unless watching TV. However, my vision has never been, nor will ever be, 20-20 or even close to that. I'm so glad it is working out well for you.

It's wonderful that there is something that can be done for old people that really improves their quality of life. I wish that the other visual scourge of aging had similar miracle treatment, but it doesn't. I refer to ARMD, age related macular degeneration (dry kind). It's gradually taking away my central vision.

Not looking forward to going blind and the loss of independence that goes with it. I had a cataract removed on one eye and it helped for a while. I pray that a cure is soon found, but doubt it will be soon enough. Hopefully, it will be there for my daughters.

Interest! I did not know that your general health can contribute to the development of cataracts.

I noticed the brighter colors only between my surgeries. I could cover one eye and then the other and see the very obvious difference in colors between the two.

I'd never noticed floaters before my surgery, but I do now. Minor annoyance. Some worse than others but either I get used to them or they fade and/or settle out of my line of sight. I'm developing secondary cataracts but the doctor says they aren't bad enough yet for Medicare to cover their correction. Mostly they are wrecking my night vision, but that's been bad for a long time. I just don't drive at night. New glasses due in any day and I'm hoping they will help the loss of acuity I started noticing last fall.

Wonderful, you look great, and thanks for the information. I aways from needing this but it is coming and feel much less anxious about it thanks to all the comments and reading material.

Thanks for the encouraging story of your cataract surgeries. Mine is coming up as soon as a separate corneal condition is at a place to be done at the same time, and I'm happy to hear of your good outcome. Congratulations on your weight loss as well. Lookin' good, Ronni.

cataract surgery - piece of cake - so worthwhile. I am extremely nearsighted so I could not get a glasses free result - in fact one eye is now good for close up and the other for some distance - not the result the surgeon expected but the shape of my eyeballs did it - and I like it. I still wear glasses - bifocals - but they are much thinner than before. And my sight without glasses is such that sometimes I get up, forget to put on my glasses and then have to figure out where I put them. Having worn thick glasses since 6th grade - the thiner ones are a treat.
If there is a down-side - it is that now I can easily see the cobwebs and dust - before - I had to walk into a cobweb to know it was there.

and you look great too - congratulations on your weight-loss - a tough thing to do as we get older.

You are so right; it's a wonderful surgery, and so easy -- both the surgery itself and the recovery. My eyes were different to begin with so the surgeon made one for near and one for far sight. That works well in general but for "near depth" like walking down stairs I do not trust by depth perception and always hold onto a rail. But that's probably a wise precaution anyway. A small price to pay for shedding the glasses and contact lenses worn since age 12.

Ronni, your story put my husband's fears back in the "manageable" category. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

I also had cataract surgery last year with the same results. Difference was that I hadn't understood that a lens had been implanted and it came as a delightful surprise. I was sitting at the table with my family and picked up a jar of chilies and read the small print. I felt like I'd been given a wonderful gift in my old age.

Ronni, I just saw this post tonight, skimming the internet on the "miracle" of cataract surgery. I just finished my second eye today and am so impressed seeing 20/20 again and realizing how I've been saved from serious vision issues with it; I could not even pass the drivers test again, ever, without it. Your post is from just over three years ago and how time flies. I am following you daily now still. Your friend John.

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