14 December 2007

Seeing is Believing

Having an eye go bad is pretty scary business. It's even worse when you get a cataract in one eye and it progresses very quickly.

Pat had known that she had a minor cataract problem. Then in early '07 we both noticed that her vision was getting really bad. Our regular optometrist told her that the slight catarct had rapidly clouded to a major cataract in less than a year (uncommon.) Together, we went to an appointment with an eye specialist and were dismayed to be shown that her vision had degenerated to 20:60, in her right eye, WITH glasses. Without glasses, she couldn't see anything, functionally.

The suggestion was to replace the cataract-damaged eye lens with a man-made plastic lens. They now do this with orthoscopic micro-surgery and it sounded like a simple procedure.

As of today, there are several different classes of lenses available for implantation and we had a difficult decision to make. The old-time type of lenses are fairly rigid, fixed focus critters. That means that you get one range of vision in focus: usually long distance is in focus; medium distance is a little fuzzy; and, close up (reading) is just a mess. The up-side is that there have been thousands and thousands of them implanted with a very low problem rate.

An alternate is a newer design that is soft/flexible so that the eye muscles can warp the lens and give the patient acceptable distance, mid-range and close-up vision. Even though they don't always give the patient perfect vision at any of the distance ranges, many people throw away their glasses completely if both eyes receive the soft implants.

Since Pat only needed a single lens replaced, that meant that she would positively still have to wear glasses (for the untreated eye).

So: more proven design; single eye repair only; probability that the old design will be around for years and years (in case a repair/replacement is required in the distant future) -- we selected the older design.

I was expecting quite a big deal for the ultrasonic disintigration of the old lens, removal of the many pieces, insertion of the new lens, positioning, and repair of the incision. They told us that the entire procedure would take 3 hours, including recovery.

So, I'm thinking, "This will take less than an hour in the operating room."


While Pat was being prepared for the operation, the nurse said, "Yes, the Doctor will take about 10 minutes to complete the procedure."

Ten minutes!?! Incredible.

And that's how it went. From when they rolled her toward the operating room until the doctor came out to tell me the procedure went perfectly, only about 20 minutes ticked away. (There was some time eaten up for the anesthetic to kick in.)

There was a bit of angst for both of us as we worried what the results would be. Pat had 3 kinds of eye drops to endure, every 4 hours and she said that it felt like there was a foreign object caught under her eyelid.

The next day, we were at the doctor's office for a post-operative check up. The nurse flashed an eye chart up on the wall and asked Pat to read the smallest line possible. She hesitated a second and then ripped through the little bitty letters at the bottom of the page. 20:20 vision!

Three hours out of our lives and Pat goes from barely being able to see with glasses to perfect vision without glasses. Wow.

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07 December 2007

Gotta get in the Spirit!

We returned home Monday evening from our recent visit to Costa Rica and now its time to get into the Holiday spirit. We need to put the outside lights on the house and get the tree decorated this weekend. With the temperature going back up into the 80's today, I felt John and I would need a bit of help to get us motivated to bring down all the decorations from the attic. The Dancing Elves did just the trick!

Click on the link and enjoy!

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