Wednesday, May 14, 2014

I am Cyborg

EyeShield

cy·borg [sahy-bawrg] noun
a person whose physiological functioning is aided by or dependent upon a mechanical or electronic device.

Origin: 1960–65; cyb(ernetic) org(anism)

* * *

For a long long time I've had bad vision. I had always chalked it up to simply being my eyes, which had an horrendous amount of astigmatism.

About 14 years ago, I looked into the option of LASIK vision correction, and while I was apparently a candidate at the time, the doctor refused to preform it because, in his words, I would not be "20/20 happy." (I supplied him with a laundry list of questions about the procedure, and that must've scared him off).

In retrospect, that was a blessing in disguise because a few years later I heard a dreaded "C" word…cataract.

By definition, a cataract is the condition where the lens of your eye starts to turn cloudy, thereby blurring your vision. In extremely circumstances it can go completely opaque, effectively rendering a person blind in that eye.

While I wasn't completely blind, my vision was pretty bad. Uncorrected, it was something like 20/500+, and even with my coke bottle glasses it had devolved to a point where it could someday become a hindrance to driving.

As I haven't had vision care for a long time, surgery was out of the question. Out of pocket could be upwards of $7000, or more, per eye.

However, thanks to Obamacare, I was able to finally get my eyes taken care of. I cannot stress enough that had the president not pushed for his changes in health care, I would not have been able to do this.

(And on a side note, I find the earlier comments by opponents that there would be less choice in health care ludicrous as I see more and more advertisements on TV for health care options I've never heard of until recently.)

* * *

I arrived at my appointment mid-morning last Friday. People asked me whether I was nervous? (How could I NOT be?!?). I said, "No." But, the truth came out when they took my blood pressure as it was all over the place. Not enough to abort the surgery. But, enough to make me take pause.

After copious amounts of eye drops, including some type of "cane" drug to numb the eye, as well as a mild sedative, it was time to wheel me into the operating room.

I was bummed that it wasn't equipped with a recording system, as my grandmother's surgery center had been. But, then I would be "the main event" so it didn't really matter.

The overhead light was all a blur. But, it kept moving all over the place and  so I eventually asked, "Have you started yet?"

Turns out he was already several minutes into the operation already when I asked.

Basically, they make a couple of small incisions in the surface of the eye and then use an ultrasonic wave to liquefy the natural lens of the eye. It's then sucked out and debris cleaned up, before the artificial lens is inserted; unfurling similarly to the solar wings on the International Space Station.

After a bit of tweaking to get the lens properly placed, they covered the eye with a shield (what you see in the photo above), and wheeled me back to the recovery room.

All told, I think I was in the operating room for 20-25 minutes. In fact, I was easily on my way home under two hours from when I first got there. Probably closer to 90 minutes!!

I had my first follow-up appointment the next morning and was shocked! I nearly aced the eye chart; missing only one letter on the 20/20 line. Granted, it wasn't crystal clear. But, it was pretty discernable.

Now, at today's second follow-up appointment, I basically slammed the 20/15 line with no problems, and my astigmatism is completely gone! Plus, I got the great comment that I healed a lot quicker than the doctor expected (which accounts for the ultra-high distance vision).

Perhaps the only downer is that I have to wait until June 13th to get my right eye fixed, and so watching TV and using the computer can be a chore at times.

I can either use my old glasses, which render my new eye a total blur, or I can use a cheap pair of reading glasses, which then totally blur out the right eye due to its astigmatism.

It's kind of strange to think that I will have a small piece of plastic in my eye for the rest of my life. But, in this day and age, where it's commonplace for people to get knees and hips replaced, why should my eye lenses be any different?

Plus, I now have the advantage that these lenses are better than the best sunglasses when it comes to blocking out harmful UV light.

About the only negative thing I will come away with is they are not multi-focal, like the natural human eye so I will be doomed to reading glasses for the rest of my life. But, that's certainly better than not being able to see.

1 comment:

Deborah Fink said...

Glad to hear that is was a success for you Robert.