Unforeseen Consequences of
Cataract Operations


You and your magazine have totally bummed me out with your woeful eye tales.

--- Old Goat

Dear Old Goat:

It is very simple. The eyes go in old age. My beloved mother went blind for her last seven years (they finally laid her away, sightless, when she was ninety-five).

When I had my cataract operation three years ago, I could see (but not well) with the new plastic lens they inserted in my right eye. The other (untouched) eye went rapidly downhill: within weeks my nearsightedness in the "good" eye doubled.

Furthermore, they don't tell you that one of the possible side-effects of a cataract operation is a higher chance of detached retina. This came about a year and a half after my original operation. Think of the operation for a detached retina as a root-canal on steroids.

Then it was decided last summer that I should have a routine procedure to relieve the pressure in the same eye. It is known as a trabelectomy. The surgeon did not tell me that the eye he operated on would be useless for close-in work --- reading, computer --- for a time, and would have a different focus forever after. I was blind for over three weeks (for 23 days, twelve hours, thirty-two minutes, and five seconds, to be exact.) I learned, quickly, that I should have spent more time with my beloved Mum during the time of her sightlessness. She was a heavy reader like me, and when they take away the books, time can hang heavy.

I use my new but much beleaguered right eye for reading, writing, 'rithmetic ... but it is a weak sister. My eye doctor tells me it is time for the second cataract operation in the other one.

My friend June was enthusiastic after her first cataract operation. Today, a month later, she tells me it is hard for her to read, that the prescription lenses are not working well, and that Medicare will only pay for one, not two, lenses. The new government-issued frames are cheesier than the kind you would pick up yourself at the Pic 'N' Save for twelve dollars.

My message is very simple. If the IOP (the eye pressure) in either of your eyes is below 18 - 20, and if you can still read, write, watch television, and study nude photos ... avoid an operation on your eye if you can. All the raves I read on the Internet about cataract operations never go into the complications and ... worse ... never tell you that you are getting a fake lens which can never match the original, no matter how bad it is or was.

In other words, the propaganda is very strong. I have thus become a professional Chicken Little. And it still pisses me that the propaganda for these operations is so wanton.

I let June know I thought she should wait. My advice to her was to wait until she had to put her face deep in the page before she let them start cutting into her very delicate and (do I have to say it?) very precious eyeball.

She didn't.

--- A. W. Allworthy
Go to the original

Send us e-mail


Go Home

Go to the most recent RALPH