Part II
Oh sure, using corrective lenses, with my new Alcon plastic eye, I can spot the fleas on the ass of a gnat-catcher perched in a treetop a mile away. But not being much of a birdwatcher by trade, it does me little good. This cataract operation, I now know, is perfect for those who are almost blind (which I was not), and for those over eighty, those who want to improve their golf game.

For those of us who read, and love reading, and want to read all day and much of the night, and are still sighted --- no matter how thick our lenses --- it was and is a disaster. 

I had the misfortune not only of failing to read up on it (assuming I could find an honest evaluation somewhere), but, worse, considering it as an experiment. I was going to try it and see if I liked it. If I did, I would have the other one operated on, as Dr. Zorrillo and his merry assistants are pressing me to do.

Now the good doctor tells me --- now he tells me --- that I have little choice about the second operation. Why? The difference in vision between left and right is so profound that he would not even provide me with a new pair of prescription glasses for reading and driving. "Your eyes couldn't take it," he said.

I am thus writing this with a pair of old glasses that I had to dig up from the back of my desk drawer. I punched out the right-hand lens just to be able to read comfortably, and I have done the same with my distance glasses for driving. Night driving is out unless I want to murder someone on the road.

One other thing. The colors. The color in my old, much abused but non-plasticized eyeball is nice: a burnt-umber that turns everything shady and 17th Century, a painting by Titian or Rembrandt.

The new eye? The world out there is one of those cheap 1950s technicolor movies with sharp blues and reds and greens and washed-out whites. Often when I am looking out over the wonders of nature, I find myself turning off the new eye (I shut it) because its vista is so garishly cheap.

Dr. Zorrillo and the hospital charged Medicare $5,000 and me $1,000 for this eye-wash. Somebody got screwed. I suspect it is both the Feds and me. I doubt if it is Dr. Zorrillo (he does five operations a day) nor the hospital (they do over a hundred a week).

$6,000. For fifteen minutes of work.

That's pretty rich.

If you are a geeze like I am, and find your vision getting a bit fuzzy around the edges, and if everyone around you is telling you how simple and easy it is to refashion your eye ... cool it. Until you reach the point of total blindness.

If you must do it, don't go to the guy with the greatest volume of business, the most fame and the nicest smile (Dr. Zorrillo was lauded ad nauseam in our local city magazine, complete with cover shot of him beaming at the camera). Instead, talk to some local doctors, find out who they would go to if their vision was, if you will pardon the mixed metaphors, on its last legs.

And only do it when you are starting to fumble for the white cane. Not a moment before.

--- L. W. Milam
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Part I

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