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Never Again in a Lifetime

Cataract Surgery – The Details

You probably know this already, but all my fretting and fear about yesterday's cataract surgery were for naught.

Well, I have been known to believe now and then that there is some kinehara involved and if I'm not afraid in certain situations, they will not go well – that the fear is what warns off negative influences.

Yes, yes. I know. That is stupid superstition but there you are. I am not a superstitious person but I am also not always rational. Thank you for all the lovely good wishes and comments yesterday – they surely must have helped too.

For those of you who asked, here is how it went.

I had arranged for a volunteer to drive me to and from the surgery center. This is a free service of the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center (ACC) They do not charge for this service and you may not tip the driver.

Mine was on time, thorough, caring and conscientious. She had even done a test run from my home to the surgery center the day before to be sure of turns and timing so I would not be late. You can be certain the ACC will get a good-size donation from me for this.

Like me, you have undoubtedly read now and then about how someone's wrong leg – the good one – was amputated by mistake and I was worried for weeks leading up to this surgery that they would mix up my eyes.

I switched to monovision contact lenses 30 years ago and have worn them ever since – one, the left, for close-up work and reading, the other for distance and that is how I wanted my new lenses to be. From the start, I told everyone at every pre-surgery visit that the left eye must be my closeup; the right for distance.

As it turned out, every person I spoke to for any reason at the surgery center yesterday asked me to tell them my full name, date of birth, which eye was being operated on and whether it was my closeup or distance eye. They did this even after a big, black arrow was drawn on my forehead pointing to my left eye.

Obviously, they know what they are doing.

I was settled into a lounge chair in a pre-op room for nearly an hour covered in a warmed blanket. Nice.

A pleasant and experienced nurse asked for medical information I had previously supplied in some forms as she checked my answers again my records on a computer screen and she specifically asked name, birthdate, which eye was to be operated on and told me to point to it.

She checked blood pressure a couple of times, heart rate and inserted a needle into my arm to be ready for anesthesia during surgery. She had booties and a hair cap for me.

Over that hour, she administered eye drops four or five times for dilation and to numb my eye.

The anesthesiologist stopped by – he had telephoned me over the weekend too – to ask some questions (name, birthdate, which eye is being operated on today? Point to it, please) and to explain in detail what would happen during surgery:

Pillows under my knees for comfort. Oxygen flow. Body draped with warm sheets. Forehead taped down to keep me from moving it. Bright lights shining directly into my eye.

He checked my heart rate and respiration and said he would do the same during the surgery which, he confirmed, would last about ten minutes.

The surgeon briefly stepped into the room, too. He asked some questions (name, birthdate, which eye is being operated on today? Point to it, please) and had some reassuring words. Soon, I walked into the surgery under my own steam.

They set me up on a table with all the monitoring and equipment and when all the personnel – five of them – were ready to begin, the surgeon asked, “Name? Birthdate? Which eye are we operating on today? Please point to it.” (Don't forget that big, black arrow was still on my forehead.)

Okay, okay, okay, enough, I thought. But I was grateful, too, they were being careful.

I felt nothing during the surgery. In the center of the bright light shining in my eye were two or three fuzzy red dots and a couple of blue ones. Surrounding those were what looked like swirling water similar to what you see swimming underwater with your eyes open.

It really was just 10 minutes or so. Two nurses stayed with me to go over a page of post-surgery instructions and to give me a "goodie bag” with a pair of quite nice sunglasses and a roll of tape to hold down the eye shield I must not remove, except for eye drops, until the follow-up exam (today).

Here's what I look like. (UPDATE: As Barbara Rogers points out in the comments, I took this shot in a mirror so that my face is reversed and it looks like the shield covers my right eye instead of the left eye where it really is.)

Ronni with Eye Guard

Although after today I can take off the shield while awake, I must wear it while sleeping for one week.

The goodie bag also contained my three types of eyedrops they had requested I bring with me to the surgery center. I had begun using them four days ago and must continue to use them twice a day until halfway through February. Among the instructions for the coming week are:

Avoid vigorous activity
Don't lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk
Don't allow your head to go below your waist for an extended period of time (tying shoes is okay)
Avoid alcohol for 24 hours
Avoid swimming pools and hot tubs
Do not drive until cleared by my doctor to do so

That last item will probably happen at my follow-up appointment today.

I've given you so much detail because I wish I had known all these little things beforehand. It would have calmed me. However, take all the above as no more than a general idea of what will happen in your case.

Eye drops, their dosage and frequency of use might be different from mine. The pre-operative routine at the physician's office and at the surgery center may be different too. Instructions before and after surgery can vary.

As it turned out, the hardest part for me was having been forbidden coffee or breakfast before the surgery. I can skip breakfast for several hours with no particular effect. But coffee?

Without it, I was lethargic, my brain didn't work well, I felt stupid and slow and the first thing I did on arriving home was brew a pot.

I had a short window of drinking coffee time before noon after which I never allow coffee so that there is time for the caffeine to work its way out of my system before bedtime. I never did reach my usual level of energy yesterday.

But when that is the worst to be said for a surgery, life is good.

Cataract surgery is everything everyone tells you it is: easy, short, painless and only four hours after it was done, even wearing the eye shield, I can already see to read on this screen and on paper with amazing, new clarity.

I am eager now for the second eye to be done - in about a month.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Vicki E. Jones: A Float for the Rose Parade


Thank you for this......it is extremely helpful. Would you believe that 100 yrs ago (LOL)when I practiced nursing we kept post-op cataract pts. flat in bed, log rolled them for all procedures & they stayed in the hospital for at least 3-4 days (if I remember correctly). We are so fortunate to live in these times.
And I am with you. Not having coffee is terrible. And after a minor procedure a few years ago the RN in recovery got me a cup post haste........after she checked my BP. BTW, you look kinda' mysterious with the eye shield & beret. Dee PS: your community org. sounds perfect.

It sounds like everything went off well, as expected, and the routine that you went through mirrors my own in all important aspects, three years ago. Yes, you let one person get the wrong leg cut off and the health care community gets paranoid. Better they be paranoid than wrong!
BTW, a little detail for an environmentalist: If they gave you the little marking pen that they used to mark your forehead (I got mine - still have it), do take it with you for the second surgery. I was allowed to re-use the pen in marking my own forehead for the second eye. (Your clinic may not allow that, of course.) It's a small thing, but if it were routinely followed, think of the environmental impact and cost saving.
Continue your smooth sailing, please.

Glad it all turned out well. And thanks for the detailed description as one day I (and many others here) will face that same procedure.

You show us a picture of your right eye covered with the shield. Huh? It took me a minute to realize you took it in a mirror. So glad to hear your experience and it's confirmation of many friend's who are also getting cataract surgeries. Barb

In my mind it all sounds so easy...in my heart, not so much. I can't even put on eye makeup. And eye drops? LOL My optometrist has learned ways to work around me so that she can do what she must.

Congrats on your new and improved vision! Thanks for the description of your adventure.

Thank you for sharing this and all the details.

While I usually find people who talk about their operations boring, I did not feel that way with your story.
My eye doc told me I have the beginnings of a cataract so this is something to look forward to down the line and, it appears, even though you look like a high-tech pirate with the eyepatch, you seem none the worse for ware.

Both of my eyes were done
last April and each eye
several months apart.
No problem
a lot of drops to use daily
before and after
and I was not given
an eye shield :)
Perfect vision
for this 78 year old...

As a contact lens wearer we have advantages over not being so squeamish about touching our eyeballs. I'm wondering if you were suffering from floaters before and whether you will notice more of them now due to the clarity improving.

Glad you came through it well Ronni

Thanks, Ronni. When I had mine done three weeks apart, I asked my surgeon to describe what he was doing during the surgery step by step. He smiled and agreed. Of course, thanks to that wonderful drug Versed, I didn't remember what he said afterwards; only that both surgeries were a piece of cake. I said to him at my checkup afterwards, "You know I wouldn't remember, didn't you?" He laughed and said, "Of course."
Wonderful surgery. What a boon.

The surgeon had to ask me to stop talking during a critical moment of the surgery. I did not even realize it was going on and aversed makes me talkative!

Thanks for relating your cataract procedure, Ronni. I'm waiting for my doctor to say it's time for mine to be done. Your well-documented experience reassures me that all will be well.

Congratulations. You do like cute in the photo! Recover weel!

Exactly as my cataract surgery except my doc said I could eat and drink as normal etc. The only difference is no eye drops prior. Only after for a few weeks etc. I could do normal activities the next day as well as drive after patch and bandage removed. The only thing I did not like was the shield they put over my face with only the eye showing for them. But they had oxygen through my nose so it wasn't that bad for me. Now, for getting the "secondary" cataract that popped up a week after the left eye surgery. He will do that in March. He said it is by laser and only takes thirty seconds. It is quite common, he said and can happen days after or weeks or months or never which never is what I'm hoping for in my right eye as these co pays are not cheap.

Everyone I know who has recently had cataract surgery has been thrilled with the experience AND especially with the results. I remember the days when cataract surgery was very dangerous and one must be hospitalized. Times and techniques have certainly changed for the better.

Glad it went so well. My father had one of those early operations, only one eye. Ever afterward he complained that he didn't like how my mother looked with his new eye sight and never had the other one done. We laughed but now it seems kind of nasty.

Glad it all went so well! So far, my eye doctor says I am not developing cataracts, possibly because I have worn photogray glasses since about age 20. Sun has always felt uncomfortable.

Thank-you so much for sharing your experience with many people who will need the same. I am trying to catch up with some health procedures that need to be taken care of - but am generally petrified of all of them. Reading honest accounts about these things is very helpful.

Thanks for the info and glad it went so well.

I love your hair and the hat is just great !

So glad it went well for you,

Thanks for this post - I had my cataract surgery last October, and the most discomfort I experienced was the itchiness related to wearing the eyepatch (exactly like yours) for the first 24 hours after my morning surgery. The improvement in my vision is a miracle of modern medicine. Please post your photo wearing your new Roy Orbison/Ray Charles shades.....

Would rather have cataract surgery than a colonoscopy! The prep for that is no fun. Am determined not to do that one again.

I am so happy that it went so well for you! Enjoy that new vision. Love the photo...

Glad all went well, Ronni. Sounds very similar to my experience a year ago. Sidney, I'm with you! Cataract surgery is no big deal for almost everyone who has it. Colonoscopies aren't bad either, really, but as you note, the prep is no fun; in fact, I'd call it extremely unpleasant. My HMO no longer performs colonoscopies routinely on patients over 75 who don't have symptoms or a family history, since the risks increase with age (so what else is new?!).

I am so pleased that all went well. I was sending good vibes and healing light so that must be why everything turned out OK (LOL!). In any case, love the photo of you in your spiffy beret and so so so very happy for you.

I'm glad cataract surgery is so easy, routine and successful these days. How I wish there was any kind of treatment for dry macular degeneration. I'm praying for a breakthrough soon.

Thanks for your account. It surely takes a lot of the mystery out of the process. I don't remember quite so much concern about which eye when I had my left eye done a few years ago. I do remember, anesthesia not withstanding, that the surgeon yelled at me for talking or moving.

I've got cataract surgery in my near future, and you have completely put my fears to rest. Thank you!

Thanks for being so detailed. The more we know, the easier it will be when we are having ours, which I am certain will come eventually.

I can remember when a friend of my mom's had cataract surgery and had to lie flat for quite a while afterward. I am so glad to know times have changed.

Bravo....I'm applauding. You look really good too. Colors...they are going to surprise you with their intensity, says the artist. Thanks for the moment by moment walk through too. My mom was hospitalized unable to move for a week after her first one. I'll need this knowledge in a year or so.

It is amazing how well and quickly cataract surgery goes these days.

I too had trouble with the no coffee edict. No coffee? In Seattle? Skipping breakfast was also challenging for me since I have Type 2 diabetes.

Fortunately, The Engineer-- who'd had the surgery several years before--took me to a nearby IHOP afterwards for a big breakfast and lots of coffee.

I too talked to the surgeon during the surgery. It turns out that we're both huge fans of the music group, called simply "The Band."

Delighted to know all went well for you yesterday. It really has become an easy procedure to go through, although until it's over, that is hard to believe.

Now, I can "one up" you on one step. That easy chair. I was escorted to mine, made comfortable and did not leave that easy chair until after recovery! Yes, when the moment came, that throne was wheeled into the operating room, and some bits of it went up and others went down, and voila, operating table.

Having said all this, I am so very glad both eyes are now taken care of and they will never have to be done again.

So glad to know all DID go well ... thank you for sharing. I was particularly interested to read that one can continue with "monovision" post-cataract surgery! Monovision has been ONE blessing of having had to wear glasses or contact lenses most of my life.
LOVED your photo ... hair and hat and happy (thin) face!

It is "a piece of cake" - so to speak- best thing I have done for myself in years - while I still need glasses - they are much less "thick" than prior to the surgery (I was extremely nearsighted" - colors are so much brighter - as if the world washed its windows.
My surgeon told me it is time to do it when the cataracts are making unwanted changes in one's life style. As for the laser procedure needed post surgery - I needed that for one eye. This is one thing that modern medicine does very well and medicare pays for - thank you very much.

I've never heard about "monovision" -- do you have to close one eye all the time? Does it get confusing?

Glad to know you're okay and that everything went well...

So glad it went well for you. What you describe is exactly what I experienced, right down to the arrow on the forehead. Only difference was my eye shield was clear plastic and lacked that nice padded edge. Oh, and I was completely asleep, at my request. Partly because I'm a devout coward and partly because my surgery also included glaucoma surgery and therefore took longer.

Most people opt for the same lenses in both eyes, giving them either nearsightedness or farsightedness (the most common choice). Glasses afterwards provide the needed additional correction. There are also some new lenses now that provide some variable focus, rather like natural lenses, but they might not be right for your eyes. My glaucoma, for example, meant I could not use them.

Those new-ish variable focus or, multi-focus lenses cost a WHOLE lot more than the usual ones - around $1,000 more and Medicare does not cover them. Plus, they are far from perfected yet.

I'll be fine with same-old, same-old monovision that has worked so well for me for 30 years.

So glad all was well and you were in good hands. I think it's something I'll need down the track as both my mum and nana had it done.

Congratulations, Ronni. This is excellent information. You look happy with your hat and eye patch.

Good one.

I have had both eyes done and I didn't experience any pain or discomfort. I did not get to wear that sexy patch, though. I would have asked for a black one and a cutlass so I could have had some fun with it.

I just HAD to go look up kinehora... "The evil eye, an evil curse; often preceded or followed by the act of spitting..."

Interesting. And apt, but for the spitting part.

Loved this post.
Loved the picture.
Thanks for letting us see your gracious acceptance of the help of a sweetheart volunteer. That is a great example. I have a good friend who is independent like so many of us, and she has confided that the most aggravating part of aging for her is having to accept help. I think that is true of some people (not me!!) and examples of "celebrities" (you are a celebrity to a lot of us) accepting help graciously is great role modeling. Thanks, Ronni.

Tarzana wrote, "I don't remember quite so much concern about which eye when I had my left eye done a few years ago."

I don't think anyone has mentioned the practice that many (most? all?) eye surgical teams follow these days of doing only left (or only right) eye surgeries during a given day. At the practice where my surgeries were performed, left eyes are on Tuesdays while right eyes are on Thursdays. The same team operates at a different venue across town where they do surgeries on Wednesdays and Fridays.


Ronni. Nice picture of you, patch and all!

I'm so sorry you went through all that anxiety beforehand, Ronni! But I have to wonder... what kind of research did you do beforehand that didn't include enough of this info to make you more comfortable?? Or did you just not believe it, or... ? Anyway, what happiness that it went so well, eh??? Yippee!!

By the way, you look utterly charming and cool with your hair like that and wearing that hat!!!!

You look good with that hat and the pirate's eye...
My grandmother recently had the cataract surgery and she was given a black specs that covered the whole of her eye and doesn't even let in sunlight.

When she got out of the car I commented that she looked like a Hollywood heroine an she had this smug look. Her second eye isn't done yet, the doctors said that it isn't ready yet.

Hello, hopefully someone can help!
Due to accident have been blind in left eye for 17 yrs. but 6 months ago a catatract developed in right eye and soon thereafter started loosing all vision bothclose and far.

Had Cataract Surgery 4/3/14 and right after vision was 99% both near & far next day Dr. said all lookks great and i was suprised i could see so well and was happy, i only had slight light sensetivity to headlights during day and all stop lights till i got up close.

Sat 3rd day after, got up and noticed stuff was fuzzy on walls and on TV i could no more make out small letters and faces were also messed up unless a close-upshot, then i drove and noticed that all road/street signs were un-readable unless i got right next to them, no matter how large they were.

Sunday am i called Dr and explained that in 2 days all went bad and my distance vision was the worst prob. since anything further than 4 feet was unfocused, i had a distance lens put in 21.0D but thought something was wrong,so she said come in Mon for checkup (1 week early).

Later Sunday i noticed with a lot of Blinking i could momentarily read letters in distance and the next morning on way to Dr. i could not make out any street signs unless i was totally at a stop and still could not read any above me at a light!

I had been told before surgery i would have only close-up vision probs and would need read classes, however for 2 days after Surgery, i needed nothingwhen i got to Dr. she tested my Vision and said my Close-up had gotten better than day after Surgery, but i explained on way down to her that all signs were fuzzy etc.....

She said it could take 6 weeks till i was healed from Surgery, but she did not explain why distance Vision had got so bad and seemed upset that i came in and told me to calm down.

I simply dont understand why with a lens for distance it had the opposite affect?

Could somebody explain if my probs are normal? Thank's

My experience also has not been as glowing as some who've posted. It is 6 weeks post cataract surgery and my vision is not good and seems to be getting fuzzier by the day. When I initially told the doctor things were fuzzy and that letters on the chart faded in and out, he told me my vision was 20/25 and isn't it wonderful I do not have to wear glasses. Did he not hear me? I can't see road signs until I am right up to them. My right eye is very weak now and it was normal before. It doesn't even look the same as my left eye. The doctor wants to make sure that I understand that any problems I am having with my right eye were not caused by the surgery. Why did they not notice before cataract surgery that there was another cloudy area behind the cataract? Glasses will not help that. I wish I had never had the surgery and I would appreciate the doctor acknowledging that I know more about what I can see than he does. At one point, I could not make out the letters on the chart and was told to "guess". Then later told my vision was 20/25 and one letter of 20/20. Strange I cannot see to drive or read without a magnifying glass.

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