Cambria woman prepares for eye surgery for cataract removal

Columnist Kathe Tanner has no plans to ditch those 1980s sunglasses just because she's having cataract surgery and getting a replacement lens in each eye.  But anticipating surgery is a scary thing.

Columnist Kathe Tanner has no plans to ditch those 1980s sunglasses just because she’s having cataract surgery and getting a replacement lens in each eye. But anticipating surgery is a scary thing.

Do you dread going to the doctor?

I usually don’t, but there is a certain medical procedure that scares me without spitting up. Do the words “cataract removal operation” strike your heart with terror as they do mine?

To many, seeing a doctor can feel like having the world’s worst final exam.

Maybe dreading doctor visits is in our DNA.

Little kids hate going to the doc because that might mean getting another pic. Teens avoid the doctor’s office because they are shy and embarrassed.

Meanwhile, a person with a lingering medical condition is rightly terrified at the time of the checkup, as the potential for frightening news is always there.

Even pets hate going to the vet and can smell them a mile away. I swear our dogs could spell “vet”.

But it’s my view, folks, that puts her in a totally different and horrible category.

I have been told that the rush and speed of our lives can contribute to poor outcomes for cataract surgery: the patient is late for their surgery appointment, so the body does not have it. time to lower blood pressure before the procedure. The patient is agitated and moving during the surgery. Or the post-surgical patient rushes out the door of the surgical center and doesn’t let the body stop and cool off.

So I’ll be good. I’ll be there early and be calm. I’ll stay still if it kills me. I will lie there quietly in the recovery room until they kick me out.

In the meantime, to calm the panicked little kid in me, I did some research.

Early cataract surgery ring absolutely, appallingly barbaric. But the procedure has improved a lot since then.

According to American Academy of Opthamology, 50 million people are expected to have cataracts in the country by 2050. The organization estimates that better eyesight after surgery can reduce the risk of hip fractures by 16% and the risk of hip fracture by 13%. car accidents due to cataracts.

Why have cataracts operated on?

I have received many speeches from cheerleaders of friends and family who have had successful cataract surgery and are delighted with the results.

“It’s the eye equivalent of washing the really dirty windows in your house,” my friend Jennifer Smith from Cambria told me.

The day after his operation, my astonished son Brian was enthusiastic: “The colors are so much brighter! Images are sharper.

None of them had any problems with the surgery or the recovery, although Brian was a little worried about having to frequently apply antibiotic eye drops and stick a plastic insect eye shield on it. the eye operated on every night for a week.

My friend Mary Denice Walker told me that her eye problems started “when she was 5 years old, establishing a life of glasses and contact lenses, with deteriorating vision.”

After a few days of post-surgical recovery, she told her friends online that she finally had “a dramatic improvement in my newly operated eye and even a little bit in my other eye.” I am really excited and hopeful!

My late husband Richard told me repeatedly that he couldn’t believe how much of a difference his new lenses made to his vision.

He had had a lifetime of eye problems, ranging from near legal blindness to retinal detachment, macular degeneration and glaucoma.

Fortunately, my surgeon, Dr. William James Gealy, is the same retinal specialist who has successfully treated Richard’s eyes for over 25 years.

Is this medical procedure safe?

Dr Gealy, a thoughtful, serious and discreet man, repeatedly advised me to “prepare to be amazed” after my cataract surgery.

“2-3 million of these surgeries are performed annually in the United States alone,” he told me, “and this is arguably the most common surgical procedure performed” in the country, with a “very good and very long dossier”.

“Not all operations are perfect. Not all of them are 100% safe, ”my surgeon said, adding that the vast majority produce excellent results, in part because“ the relative safety is extremely good ”.

The “safety profile of the operation is probably better than any other procedure,” Gealy said, “for both your health and well-being, in what you can expect in terms of improving your vision and of your overall health “.

The procedure is done with an ultra-sharp diamond blade, “you won’t feel a thing,” Gealy said, and then the new lens is inserted.

Doctors use topical anesthetics, not general or nerve blocks, with an intravenous line in place so the anesthesiologist can administer a little gentle sedation and adjust medications if there are changes in blood pressure or other problems. .

“In many cases, there is a noticeable improvement in vision right after surgery,” Gealy said.

Why do my eyes need to be repaired?

My worst eye problem isn’t the gradual decline in the sharpness of what I see, nor the slight fading of colors – which I had detected until the real problem surfaced.

Occasional double vision “wandering eye” makes driving difficult – read: dangerous -.

When there are two white lines on the road where I know there is only one, which is the real one? Which of these two identical cars is actually there, and which is my twisty sight?

After my operation, Gealy assured me, “You will see a dramatic improvement in your vision and colors. It is an excellent operation. It doesn’t take long and the results are stable.

The implanted lens, a medical device, “will outlast you,” he said.

My expectations are therefore realistic.

I just keep wearing glasses to drive or watch a movie. Hey, I have so many pairs of distance glasses that I can still wear and use – including my 1980s Jackie Kennedy glasses! – that it makes no fiscal sense to make them all instantly obsolete.

Also, if I still have to wear sunglasses – my eyes have always been sensitive to light – then why not make them the high quality prescription glasses I already have?

I need to relax. Everything will be fine, as it has been for millions of other patients who have undergone this procedure with great results.

Breathe, Kathe. Everything will be alright. Better than okay.

I hope.

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Kathe Tanner has written about the people and places of SLO County’s North Coast since 1981, first as a columnist and then also as a journalist. Her career has included stints as a bakery owner, public relations manager, radio host, trail guide, and jewelry designer. She has lived in Cambria for over four decades, and if it happens in town, Kathe knows it.


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