To save my eye this was written over a period of 10 days. My misconceptions resulted from ignorance and hearsay. In consequence I am writing mainly for the benefit of those aged older than their mid fifties, who might, one day, be similarly unknowing and also candidates for the operation. I give the usual caveat, I have no medical training and this is merely my experience as I found it and may not be typical. The Hospital Staff like most of the NHS, was considerate, helpful, eager to inform, and above all. professional. The whole procedure, which took 2.5 to 3 hours, was efficient, gentle and rather like a mix between a car assembly line, and the Stations of the Cross. There were about eight points at which we were instructed, examined, tested, anaesthetised, rested, and operated on, or given coffee and biscuits. Unlike the old days, we no longer shuffled along bench after hard bench as our turn slowly approached, our identity was established from the off and we were called personally. There were many Dos and Don’ts which were very serious, and almost impossible to obey, as I will explain later. I once taught short courses repeatedly, resulting in being able to dictate notes subconsciously, while having my mind elsewhere, a prescription for dull teaching and error. I realised the nurses had repeated the script umpteen times a day, probably for some time, and yet they managed to make it seem not only fresh but personal to the patient.
My misconception was that the cataract was a growth, like a lichen, which had to be stripped, or the eye was peeled like an onion. Instead the lens can have a natural deterioration which requires it to be removed and replaced by a plastic insertion, a very delicate operation. I have always had worries about my eyes being touched and the thought of lying there, conscious, while the lens was being scraped was the last word. I was wrong, the procedure, for me, was painless, and I was told later that, due to my age, the lens had been less supple than most. The don’ts consisted mainly of three items, don’t rub the eye, don’t stoop low, don’t lift heavy weights. I had a serious problem with two of the three, possibly due to my age. I have developed a pattern in my life where certain actions are reflex, and performed before my brain has realised it. One is rubbing an itchy eye, another is picking things up, which involves stooping. After the operation, at home I stooped and the bandage moved. Where I had seen nothing with the new lens I suddenly saw light, blood and the weave of the bandage, I was convinced I had undone all the good work. I slept badly, if hardly at all! The following morning I had an appointment for the removal of the bandages and a check. I did not see as well as some of the younger patients, due to the toughness of the older lens, but the check told me I had done no harm..
Two of the Don’ts were house work, and hoovering. While I could gladly understand hovering being a Nono, ‘housework’ had me floored until I discovered that my eye did not like looking straight down. If you are working on a kitchen bench, the body is close to the bench and the hands are mostly close to the body, working seated at a table changes the angle of sight and the work is further away from the body. This is my experience and interpretation. The younger patients were extolling the change in their sight and when my eye had recovered I realised what, for some time. I had been unaware of missing. In my case the cataract appears to have caused the eye to receive about 20% less light and infuse it with a pale green hue. While a cold blue sky now looks bright, clear and pale blue with my repaired eye, it is darker, and has a yellow green tinge with no blue evident. I controlled my urge to rub my eye by getting an optician to replace the prescription lens of my specs for my repaired eye with plain glass so the route to the itching eye would be barred by the specs. I solved the urge to pick things up I had dropped to the floor with one of those gadgets men in parks use to gather litter. I gathered from somewhere, that the brain adjusts the vision of the eyes to the best advantage and in consequence when I used no prescription lens, I could see better than with the modified specs. However, I bought sun glasses to cut down reflected glare from the computer and sunlight on white walls
One Conception coming out of this experience is that artists who painted into old age will have mixed the adulterated colour of their cataracts, if they had them, with their paints thus cooling and changing the colours. When I have had my other eye done, I will research this and report.