Around the Island

Richard’s Almanac: When it’s time for cataract surgery


Well, I finally decided to have a cataract removed. It happened last Wednesday.

I had been putting it off for the past year using any excuse I could to avoid the surgery — or I should say “procedure” which is the hospital euphemism. I had talked to many individuals who have had the operation and most were very pleased with the results.

“If you have to have surgery, that’s the best kind,” a colleague said, adding that the vision clarity benefits are phenomenal.

Only one person told me that she was the “one in a thousand that it did not work for.”

I felt that the odds were acceptable. All the reports indicated that I should do it. The alternative was to go along with pretty lousy vision in my right eye. Not wise as I would not be able to pass my next vision test for my driver’s license and I certainly did not want to be grounded.

Additionally, surgery would help my night vision improve. No more glare from oncoming headlights. It all made good sense. So why did I wait so long?

The first planned operation set for the beginning of last year was canceled because of an unrelated health issue. Fine with me. I was not quick to follow up until August. I scheduled a surgery date then and had to cancel again, this time because I developed an infection in my eye from going underwater too much.

I felt relieved, I lived in a world of postponement.

One more time I scheduled the surgery and began signing release papers. I always read the fine print. In so many words they said that any surgery is potentially dangerous and can result in death.

Then the surgeon explained to me that because of my mature cataract, there could be complications. I took all this very seriously and cancelled the surgery and went for a second opinion.

Another very reputable and skilled ophthalmologist said essentially the same thing. So I went with my original doctor and everything was fine — although he told me that it was a tough one to remove because it was so thick.

I am so happy that I went through with it. The results are just fantastic. I now can see out of my right eye. Before the surgery it was difficult to count the fingers on my hands with that eye. And nothing works short of the surgery.

I started taking some special pills for AREDS -— that stands for Age Related Eye Diseases. They did not work. I even did some research about drops available in England that would dissolve the cataracts. I discovered that they sometimes work better on dogs. I was also concerned about being sedated so I opted out of that. I went into the operating room with my eye all numbed up from anesthetic drops.

I was awake and did not suffer any discomfort — and I did not have to stay in the recovery room.

So if you are a candidate, don’t put it off. Cataract surgery will give you a very positive outlook on life. And the colors all around are so vibrant and striking. I had forgotten.

Readers may remember last spring when I wrote about getting a new purple Jeep. When I look at it in the sun now, I see how very purple it is.

On another subject, the Town Highway Department just cleared a spot adjacent to the parking lot at the Senior Center. It’s where the new shelter will be for the senior and handicapped vehicles. The Senior Citizens Foundation will be funding the project and students from the Shelter Island School shop class will be building it under the guidance of their teacher.