I had cataract surgery on both my eyes a few years ago. It was painless. And I came home with eyes like a hawk’s.
Diagram of eye showing cataract to be removed in cataract surgery on a senior

I don’t think there’s anything more intimidating for a senior than the thought of cataract surgery and imagining a surgeon’s knife heading for your eye.

Like anyone else, I had to overcome that primordial fear when I found that I’d finally had enough of glaring headlights and street lights at night.

Seeing starburst or glaring rays around lights is a telltale sign that you may have cataracts.

My cataracts that were interfering with my driving, and especially, with writing on my computer. Time to suck it up and have the surgery.

My wife had had cataract surgery before me. I reminded myself that it was an outpatient procedure; she walked out of surgery as though nothing had happened. So I decided to approach my cataract surgery with an open mind – and definitely with an open eye.

So what are cataracts?

The lens of your eye is made up of proteins that sometimes clump together and cloud or tint your vision. It’s age-related most of the time, but there can be other causes, such as diabetes, smoking, alcohol consumption or even exposure to the sun.

There’s usually plenty of time to decide on surgery once your optometrist detects a cataract forming. In the early stages, corrective glasses and sunglasses may help. But once the cataract makes it hard to drive at night, difficult to read a computer screen or a book, it may be time for lens replacement, cataract surgery.

I decided to let my curiosity overcome my dread of surgery

My approach could work for you. When I’m confronted with something that’s more or less inevitable, I begin to rationalize what will happen. In the case of my cataract surgery, I told myself that it’s a common procedure, that everyone I knew who had had the surgery suffered no pain and that the outcome was almost always successful. From that point, I became an interested observer of the surgery.

Numbing eye drops and a sedative – an easy start to my cataract surgery. 

I’d need to be awake for the surgery, so an overall anesthetic was out. The numbing eye drops would kill pain and let the surgeon go about his work. The sedative was welcome. About fifteen minutes to half an hour after the sedative and drops, I was in the ophthalmologist’s chair, eager to watch everything he did.

It’s a little strange. Like something out a Hitchcock film. But I literally concentrated through the subject eye as his scalpel approached my eye. I felt nothing. I saw the ultrasonic tool that was going to break up my defective lens approach. Then, of course, I could see no more through that eye. But I could hear the procedure. I Iistened closely as the surgeon vacuumed out the lens debris. From then on, all was silent.

In short order, my wife was driving me home. I was wearing a protective cup over my first corrected eye. The lens in my other eye would be replaced a few weeks later. If I remember correctly, I wore he patch during the day, for two or three days, used some eye drops and then surveyed the world through my new and improved eye. I had ZERO discomfort.

Talk about super-vision…!

From my recliner, about six feet away from a bookshelf, I could read the fine print on the spine of books.

On packaging, I could read the smallest print without glasses.

I could read road signs from much farther away than before.

That disturbing headlight and street light glare was really reduced.

I hardly could wait to have my second eye “done.”

OHIP pays for cataract surgery and a basic artificial lens.

OHIP not only covers cataract surgery, but pays for what your physician determines is “a medically necessary lensI,” one without such vision corrections as multi-focus capabilities to compensate for astigmatism. I opted to pay out-of-pocket for a premium lens, from which the cost of the basic lens was deducted.

If  you have astigmatism and don’t want to continue wearing glasses to correct it, the premium lens is worth the money. Astigmatism is different from near- or far-sightedness; it degrades vision at all distances. Replacing the basic lens with a premium lens is successful most of the time.

Not all problems with seniors’ eyes are cataracts.

Check out the government of Canada Seniors and Aging – Vision Care page for more information on how your vision changes as you age and general information about how to care for your eyes.  

In Ontario, the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) covers an annual, full comprehensive eye exam plus any follow-up assessments that you may require.

Are you thinking about having cataract surgery?

The National Eye Institute offers more detailed information about cataracts

I had my second eye done a few weeks after the first. Everything went smoothly. Once I got over my initial apprehension having cataract surgery, I found it was a fascinating experience. I’m very, very happy I went through with it and am very happy with the results.

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