Well Eye'll Be Darned: I Have *CATARACTS?*Katie Allison
I have terrible, TERRIBLE eyesight, and that’s been the case for me since early childhood, when I first began wearing glasses. For most of my life I was simply nearsighted very, very nearsighted, and every 5 years or so I’d get a slightly stronger prescription to correct my nearsightedness.
But then, around the time I turned 40, I started noticing for the very first time that I was having trouble reading, and also having difficulty seeing smaller things located closer to me than about arm’s length. This was a totally new development. And in the past couple of years, this reading-vision problem has only gotten worse and worse, and at the same time, my original nearsightedness problem suddenly escalated at a rapid clip.
In other words, my vision which was always really bad to begin with has begun deteriorating kind of quickly in the past 36-48 months. For example, I now have to remove my glasses altogether and squint with one eye shut to read a message on my iPhone or a book, and even with my glasses on, my distance vision hasn’t been working too well.
Every time my children or Dr. Neighbor have seen me lately with my face all scrunched up, one eye shut and my glasses pushed down my nose in order to read something, they’ve fussed at me to GO GET NEW GLASSES, but I’m busy, so I’ve kept putting that off and putting it off, all the while noticing that I’m just not seeing very well at all, and knowing that it was time to upgrade to an even stronger Rx, and probably to the bifocals that the optometrist first told me 5 years ago that I need now, but that I’ve so far resisted.
Well, tonight, right after I got home from work, my worn out pair of banged up, scratched up, three-year-old eyeglasses slipped off my face and fell on the floor in front of me, where I proceeded to step on them and break them in half at the bridge. Given how bad my eyesight is, I could not simply wait to replace my glasses until I had time to get to the optometrist tomorrow or the next day. Not only can I not drive without glasses, I cannot even see well enough to comfortably get around our house, much less complete even one day at my office sans specs. So just as happened the last time I suddenly needed to replace my glasses after breaking them, I called up the mall optometrist/one hour eyeglasses store in a bit of a panic, and I begged them to see me tonight before they closed at 9pm. And once again, the good folks of Dr. Bizer’s Vision World told me to come on in and they would take care of me.
So Jon hurriedly taped my old glasses together (what ISN’T duct tape good for?) just well enough to hold them so that I could drive to the mall very slowly, not tilting my head at all so my tenuously repaired glasses would stay on my face.
Luckily, it’s pretty close to our house. When I arrived, I explained to the receptionist at the store that I was the person who had called in a panic, and she ushered me right back for an eye exam with there on-site optometrist.
He was the same very nice, very professional and articulate fella who saw me for my last eye exam, a few years ago, and after he looked at my chart, he remembered me because my eyesight is SO bad. As he began examining my eyes, he asked me if I’d noticed any changes in my vision in the past two or three years since I’d last been in, and I said yes, that both the near and farsightedness were definitely getting worse, but I figured that was inevitable with aging plus the fact that I was always blind as a bat anyway. However, after he’d determined that my eyes, and particularly my right eye (the one I always close to squint in order to read) had gotten way, way worse since my last exam, he told me he wanted to take a closer look at my eyeballs, which he proceeded to do with special lights and drops and such. And after a few minutes, he asked me whether I am taking certain medications (no), whether I have diabetes or had ever had any prediabetic warning signs (no), and a few other questions.
He then explained to me that he was concerned because it appeared to him that I have CATARACTS developing in BOTH eyes right in the middle of each one and that I appear to also have something he called “retinal scarring” in both eyes, but in my right eye in particular.
I was floored. As awful as my eyes are, no one has ever told me anything like that about them before. In every other eye exam I have ever had, I was just told that I have run of the mill, really bad eyesight, and that while it is getting worse as I get older, I could just keep getting stronger glasses decade after decade. But this? Cataracts and some kind of scarring? I couldn’t believe what he was telling me.
I asked him all kind of questions, and he was terrific about explaining what he was seeing, and also in cautioning that while he is 100% sure that there are cataracts and scarring present, he is NOT an actual opthamologist, so his ability to determine the extent of the problem or the possible reason(s) for the problem was very limited. For this reason, he said, he wanted me to refer me immediately like, this week to an eye specialist practice here in town. He also told me that while I definitely need bifocals now, given that I will likely need some kind of EYE SURGERY (Aaaaaaaagggghhhhh!) after this specialist sees me, he didn’t think it was worth me spending the money on new bifocals now when my Rx would likely need adjusting after my eyes are fixed. He recommended that I get new glasses that would reflect the much stronger correction I definitely need for my nearsightedness since my last eye exam, and just keep taking my glasses off and squinting to read for the moment, until the eye specialist can check me out to see what I actually need. He then wrote up a referral for me that says my diagnosis is “early onset cataracts and macular lesions,” and gave my new Rx to the folks up front, who quickly helped me pick out some new frames. My new, non-duct taped glasses were ready within 30 minutes, and I was headed home by the time the mall closed at 9.
Now I am just kind of reeling. As it happens, my sister is very good friends with one of the best eye specialists in town, so he’s going to squeeze me in on Friday, but until then, I am left baffled. No one in my family has ever had any eye problems like this that I know of, although several of us have needed major vision correction via eyeglasses. But who gets cataracts at my age? And what in the heck caused scarring or lesions or whatever the optometrist saw when he shined his lights in my eyes tonight?
I am trying very hard not to be freaked out, and I am forcing myself not to obsessively consult Dr. Google using the search terms that the optometrist used, but I gotta say, that won’t be easy to avoid until I get to see the specialist on Friday.
Have any of y’all ever had any eye issues like this? Or eye surgery? Is eye surgery as incredibly horrifying as it sounds? Is it worse than having one’s wisdom teeth out? Am I morphing into Mr. Magoo before I even get to the age of menopause? AAAAGGGGHHH! I’ve never been left with so many questions after a trip to East Town Mall.
So now I wait, I guess.
At least I don’t have any more duct tape on my glasses.
ADDENDUM: My mother informs me that she had cataract surgery not that long ago. I’m not sure how I was not aware of this, but somehow I wasn’t. So maybe this is a hereditary thing?
READ MORE FROM KATIE OVER AT MAMAPUNDIT (HER PERSONAL BLOG)