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My first cataract operation

From Tony Little's Gazelle Freestyle Elite User's Log

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This page last updated on or about 12-10-07
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BACK to Tony Little's Gazelle Freestyle Elite User's Log

Below you'll get a first-hand account of undergoing the operation and recovery, plus great how to's and tips regarding post-operation eye drops use, nightly application of the sleeping shield, reducing your risk of accidental post-op damage, and more.

12-6-07: My first cataract operation

A few days ago I had my first operation ever. It was to replace an eye lens ruined by a cataract, with an artificial one.

I like to make things more interesting for my little nephews by referring to it as 'getting a bionic eye'.

How I came to get my cataracts at a relatively young age

I've been afflicted with rapidly worsening cataracts in both eyes for the past year or two. From what I've been able to learn about the subject, I think it was brought on by my severe sleep deprivation over roughly a ten year period preceding that, which allowed (among other things) my immune system to get weaker than it should be. And that opened the door for a normally dormant infection many of us carry our entire lives to become invigorated, and attack my lenses.

(There's quite a few nasty beasties like that swimming around in most of us, just waiting for their chance to afflict us; but there's good beasties too, which instead protect us from things like kidney stone formation. Frequent or repeated antibiotic treatments sometimes kill our good bugs along with our bad ones, leaving us then vulnerable to things like kidney stones generation. OUCH!)

A bad vitamin B12 deficiency also contributed to my weakened immune system-- as well as maybe some of my insomnia. But I couldn't discover that aspect until I completely crashed B12-wise.

I also got very little vitamin D for many years, which also weakened me immune-wise. To the point that my joints actually began aching and becoming fragile in terms of the normal twists and turns you might do in a day.

One indication of the D deficiency may have been my way-too-easily cracking a rib in recent years.

I've tried to rectify these deficiencies once I become aware of them. But as is true in many other cases, prevention is better than cure.

It appears once you have cataract damage, there's nothing you can do to reverse it. You can only replace the lens, once it gets bad enough.

How I'd previously coped with my deteriorating vision

I'd gone to some lengths to cope with my worsening vision since the slide began. Some years back I'd found my eyestrain brought on by my glaucoma eye drops to be reduced with a certain type of improvised mirror contraption on my desk. Later, when that was no longer sufficient, I'd spent almost $1000 on a 21 plus inch LCD screen for my computer-- after first determining I could not afford a even larger projector display (or concoct my own).

I'd also set my Windows XP PC to vision-impaired mode.

After that, once my eyes got bad enough, I found I was able to wear two pairs of eyeglasses at once to still see well enough to work. That is, I would don an older pair of eyeglasses directly in front of my latest pair, to double the aid the lenses were giving me.

(Yes, I was only able to do this because I've never thrown away any old pairs of prescription glasses during my life: largely because of the junkstorming practices instilled in me by my dad: for basically you never know when some odd piece of junk might prove useful later)

By that point I'd already given up driving a car for safety reasons (as I couldn't read road signs or see red lights wearing a single pair of glasses). However, in an emergency, wearing the two sets simultaneously looked workable-- at least until the cops caught me at it. But I avoided driving at all in any other case. And just bummed rides off family members instead.

Being self-employed largely via my web site in recent years had helped greatly limit how much driving I had to do, anyway. Plus, I live within walking distance of many essential shopping and service providers. And many items of course can be delivered to your front door these days via an internet or telephone order.

Finally though, even with all this, my vision was simply getting so bad I had no choice but to try surgery. For even with all the coping schemes I could devise, it was still becoming downright hazardous to my own and others safety and health for me to go on that way.

Heck: there's times I'm entrusted to babysit small children! The smallest toddlers must be watched in hawk-like fashion to prevent injury. Plus, I might be called up to drive somewhere to rescue someone, or fix something for somebody. But my eyesight was becoming so bad, that stuff was getting to be completely beyond me.

So my unassisted-by-glasses eyesight had gotten truly horrendous by the time of this first operation.

However, I figured after the operation (if things went well), I might still get by temporarily using some old eyeglasses help on my still bad eye-- by simply removing the lens from the frame meant for the fixed eye.

Unfortunately, there turned out to be problems with that idea (more on that later).

Making the decision regarding practical vision range for your new lenses

According to my doctor (prior to the operation) I had to basically decide on the range of vision I wanted my new lens to have. Near-sighted, or everything else.

My mom had gotten new lenses for both her eyes years before, and chosen to have one near-sighted and one for everything else. This also meant she'd definitely have to wear some prescription eye glasses too, in addition to her new eye lenses. To balance out her vision ranges.

On the face of it, that sounded like common sense to me. For in a survival situation where you might lose your eyeglasses, you'd definitely want or need both range types-- and the only way to guarantee that would be to have one eye near-sighted and the other not.

However...since her surgery years back I'd often heard mom complain about trouble seeing things at times. And it may even contribute to her being unsteady on her feet a bit, now that I think about it (due to flawed depth perception stemming from the disparate ranges). Then, when I brought up the idea with my eye doc-- and told him I figured to get my worst eye rigged for near-sightedness and my second eye everything else-- he told me people who do that often have problems with the two differing eye ranges conflicting with one another. So he recommended I instead get the 'everything else' option in my first operation, and compare it with the now horribly near-sighted vision in my remaining bad eye, to see what I thought about it, before making my final decision on what lens I'd get in the second eye.

Other concerns I'd had were that I might actually need near-sightedness worse than far-sightedness-- as I do so much computer work, both as a user and on hardware, close up. But I also worried about having my right eye set to near-sighted in regards to possibly aiming weapons like a rifle. Would an artificially near-sighted eye ruin my weapons proficiency?

This concern may sound silly to some, but given my past and where I live, it's very justified. Not to mention the scary political decline in my home country over past years.

Basically I was unsure what the limits would be between a near-sighted lens, and one set to 'everything else'.

I also want to regain the ability to comfortably read regular books again. Badly! My cataracts have made that very difficult for me.

I don't like it when one of my little nephews calls for homework help, and I cannot read my own reference books to get them the formula or info they need. Or when I cannot do such things for myself for research purposes.

Atop all this was the fact I'd been terribly near-sighted almost my whole life-- since at least 5th grade, after I'd read an entire set of Worldbook Encyclopedias in somewhat dim lighting (a true book worm geek! That was me!). So it sounded like it'd be a somewhat radical change to NOT be near-sighted any longer.

Plus, in my youth, my prescription glasses had compensated for my powerful nearsightedness in exemplary fashion, surely allowing me something like 20/20 vision if not better back then-- at least wherever I wasn't forced to do without them for some reason. For I can recall seeing quite well during my supercar adventures.

Then there's the fact that I was forced to start wearing bifocals in recent years. I never have liked those things.

But I also need to regain the capacity to drive safely. So there's tons of stuff to consider here. It may be there simply is no 'correct' choice in this matter. Agh!

I'm hopefully now (post first operation) gradually getting a better idea of what's involved in all this-- and what to expect.

Basically after you have such operations you'll frequently have to also get prescription eyeglasses in order to enjoy the full visual range of a healthy young adult.

Or, in some cases, merely get some reading glasses for close up stuff (I think).

There may even be a few lucky people who don't have to wear glasses at all after such operations. At least for a while. For most adults' eyeballs get longer inside their skulls as they age, making them ever more far-sighted over time (the old 'holding the book at arm's length' thing). So even the lucky ones may not stay lucky forever in this regard.

In my own case, my 'fixed' eye works best at six feet distance and farther-- with everything getting fuzzier and fuzzier as it gets closer than that.

My still bad eye with a cataract now sees best at around six inches: with everything closer or farther away than that practically turning into one great hairball fast as the distance changes (Putting an eyeglass lens in front of my bad eye can help it though).

The pitfalls of American healthcare today

As I'm an American-- plus self-employed-- for most practical purposes, I have health insurance coverage on paper only. That is, it's just about worthless in terms of actual usage. So I have to pay very close to 100% of my healthcare bills myself. Despite paying a pretty hefty monthly premium for the fake coverage.

(I suspect it'd be illegal in many other developed countries for a policy like mine to be called "insurance" at all by its mother corporation)

I wish I was a Canadian. Or a citizen of one of the many other countries which have true healthcare insurance (universal, that is: virtually every country considered to be 'modern' these days has it-- except for America). Heck: even some nations Americans might consider poor and backward enough to be classified as 'third-world', either now have or are phasing in universal healthcare for their citizens too. For instance, I hear that's even happening in Mexico these days (holy crap!).

But I'm too poor to do anything about all that.

So as an officially 'insured' American, I simply pay my stiff monthly premiums, and then have to also pony up $2500 the day of my operation.

($2500 is the size of my total deductible; I chose it years ago in order to afford the monthly premiums, which currently run a bit under $200. As I'm not a complete idiot, I've always done my best to keep enough in savings to cover the deductible since taking out this policy. However, I was surprised that I had to pay the entire deductible up front for this operation. I'm wondering now if I'd be better off dropping my health insurance altogether, and simply saving that $200 a month for bills! For I honestly can't see any benefit whatsoever from my insurance policy-- and haven't been able to for years now)

In contrast to the above, the very best part of the American healthcare system must be its nurses. I write about my experiences with them elsewhere on site, regarding times my parents were hospitalized in years past. For me personally too, they proved exemplary: the best part of the whole operation experience.

Maybe lots of other countries outdo America in their health insurance systems: but they surely can't surpass the quality of our nurses!

But alas, here in America we even seem determined to spoil that too-- by stripping our nurses of adequate wages and benefits, just as we've done to other workers in our economy over past decades (you can see references on my nurses page). Damn it!

I was scheduled to show up at 7 AM. The hospital called me a few days before to add that I show up a few minutes early to pay that $2500-- since I am an insured American and all.

I did as I was told for the day of the operation, and there wasn't much waiting after that.

Of course, there'd been TONS of waiting before this. Despite my eye doctor telling me months earlier that I could likely get an operation within two days of telling him I was ready.

That mythical two days turned into something much nearer to two months, as I was then scheduled for one exam appointment after appointment, supposely to prepare for my operation.

At least some of these appointments seemed to me like a simple padding of my bills-- as they were repetitive in nature, with often no discernible progress towards my operation at all evident afterwards: instead, I just got yet another appointment for a preparatory exam of some sort. Heck: in at least one case they'd scheduled me at one office, only to tell me the day I showed up they didn't have all the necessary equipment there to do the tests, so I'd have to get an appointment weeks later at a different place for that. And naturally I WAS charged for that visit anyway. Grrr!

So two days turned into something closer to two months, and I was further drained of cash (as of course my insurance will only pay for...what, exactly? I don't know. As little as they can legally get by with, apparently; and in America these days, they can get away with paying virtually nothing).

Going under the knife (or the laser, to be more accurate)

So anyway, I finally made it to an actual operation. The nurses treated me like a favorite son. I maybe had to wait on my back outside the actual operating room for 20 minutes. But there too the nurses tried to make me comfortable and alleviate any worries as best they could-- even as they hurried about, busy as hell it seemed.

I had an IV needle dripping some sort of anesthesia into me, through the back of my hand. Inserted amazingly gently by one of the nurses. When she inserted it, it felt like a tiny little split-second pinch a baby's fingernails might give you.

As one way to pass the time-- plus possibly maximize my benefits from the experience-- I was trying to pay close attention to everything going on around me. So I could report it here, as well as be better able to write about such things in any future stories as well (if you're not familiar with my stories on-site this is a good place to start).

Whatever drug they had me on, it was damn subtle in its effects. There was no euphoria, or even significant relaxation that I could tell, for the entire time. Or dulling of the senses. All things I'd experienced with other drugs over past decades, for a variety of reasons. For instance, I'd had codeine after a doctor on a construction site in the seventies removed a bit of metal from one eyeball. And I've had laughing gas many times at the dentist. And lots of other drug experiences beyond those.

No, I really couldn't tell the drug was doing anything, even after I was wheeled into the operating room and was watching people moving all around me.

Beyond that point there's now a blank spot in my memory. Missing time, like often described in UFO abductee experiences. I remember being in the operating room-- then being wheeled out, and back to a temporary hospital bed. Then a few minutes later going home. I can remember absolutely nothing about anyone working on my eye.

Post-op and beginning the recovery process: day one

I guess I might have wondered if they did anything at all to me, but for one thing: I could tell a difference in vision immediately after that. When I was in the temporary bed after the operation.

There was a metal shield taped over my operated eye. But the shield had tiny holes in it I could see through. And it seemed I could see better.

Of course, there were some mitigating factors then. For one, at a previous eye exam a technician had put a similar device with small holes before my eyes, and I'd been able to see images more sharply through the small holes than expected, even with my cataract in place. So I wondered if something similar wasn't happening now. As well as the rest of that day and evening, when I tried spying through the holes, to do more sampling.

But all that quickly took a back seat to other issues.

For my eyes became extremely sensitive to light within an hour or so of the operation. I'd been given something like an over-sized pair of sunglasses for this, but those things were inadequate to the early sensitivity.

A massive and awesome light show soon began, which was utterly incapacitating. I had to retreat to bed and stay there for most of six hours or so I think.

I experienced full-scale hallucinations during that time, due to my eye's response to the physical violation, plus maybe the drugs involved too (besides the anesthesia, I'd had lots of different kinds of drops).

The light show was both awesome and scary. For under any other circumstances it would have fit the description of terrible things happening to my vision, health-wise.

Part of the time the visions weren't much more complicated than something like clouds or pools of fire or lava, or silent, rolling explosions of achingly brilliant light. But other times, I'd see jaw-dropping surrealistic paintings of supernaturally fine detail-- probably to the very limits of resolution my retina was capable of.

I'd never in my life seen anything like this show. Not from injury or drugs or even in any fantastic dreams I could remember. Even the wildest Hollywood cinematic efforts at such psychedelic visions I'd ever seen paled by comparison to this! There were many times during it that I wished I could have recorded it for others to see.

I witnessed at least hundreds of completely different images. The surrealistic paintings never hung around nearly as long as the simpler fiery clouds or pools, though.

And all this was apparently happening just at the back of my operated upon eyeball, with my brain trying its best to interpret the images in some meaningful way.

As I'd been diagnosed with glaucoma some years before, and been made very aware that light shows much dimmer and simpler than this one could be signs of imminent blindness or permanent damage, I had to calm myself about it all. Tell myself this was probably normal for the aftermath of such an operation. Remind myself that it was surely only temporary, and would soon subside. That people in certain car accidents often likely experienced stuff like this too-- and later recovered, no worse for wear.

However, neither my doctor or his staff-- or the various papers I received from either him or the hospital-- described anything like this lightshow happening in the operation's wake.

But while the hallucinations ran their course there wasn't much I could do about it anyway. Even trying to make a telephone call would have been horrendously difficult. For these hallucinations took precedence over anything I could actually see of physical reality: they were always in the forefront of my vision, and utterly opaque so far as I could tell. Thereby blotting out anything of the real world beyond them.

I also comforted myself with the fact I would be seeing my doctor the very next day to have the metal shield removed. So it wouldn't be long before I had an expert checking me out again, anyway.

As I said before, I frequently suffer from insomnia. And had the night prior to the operation (I got only two hours of sleep I was sure of there; but apparently got considerably more than that, judging by how I felt the next day. But I clearly remember tossing and turning a lot, and checking the clock time once an hour for many hours there). So some lack of sleep may have contributed to these post-op events.

I think I only slept about one hour out of the six I was bed-ridden by the hallucinations that day. I finally got up and moved around a bit. But could do almost nothing of consequence.

You see, I'd likely waited far longer to have this first operation than was advisable. Partly due to the awful costs I expected would be involved. But also partly because my doctor himself had told me such an operation should be delayed as long as possible, as it might worsen my glaucoma.

But then months later he'd turned around and said the operation might improve my glaucoma instead. Maybe he'd seen some new information on which to make that claim. But my impression was he was in a mood to sell me on an operation that day. That was the same day he'd told me I was practically never more than two days from having the operation, once I decided to do it.

Naturally, I had the first operation performed on my worst eye. Unfortunately, I'd waited so long that my other eye was pretty awful too.

So after the operation I found myself stuck with one covered eye-- and the shield on that covered eye was so big it prohibited use of any eyeglasses at all for the other eye. Yikes! That circumstance had not occured to me previous to the event. And so I was left post-op in a state which was likely legally blind. Ouch!

To make matters worse, I had to wear the sunglass gizmo too due to my new light sensitivity.

Reducing the light your eyes receive also reduces your vision. So man, was I hurting!

And speaking of hurt, there was a sort of low level of slight headache present for several days after the surgery as well. Maybe from the drugs, maybe the operation, maybe both. Almost but not quite enough to take an aspirin for.

(I normally avoid medicines of any kind unless prescribed by a doctor, or I'm suffering significant pain for more than a few hours: I made a conscious effort to stop being a chronic masochist decades ago)

I'd also get spikes of pain from bright lights for days afterwards too; even through the sunglasses.

So anyway, even after the hallucinations died down, I was stuck vision-wise in a near helpless condition. Fortunately, I did have family members around to help if I got into trouble. But being unable to do hardly anything but exist is awful to me.

That evening I sat for a few hours three feet from a 32 inch TV and listened to it like it was a radio. For I couldn't see it well enough with my one uncovered eye to even recognize what was being shown at times.

I soon retired to bed, and slept fairly decently-- though somewhat concerned by a bit of lightshow remnants flitting about here and there as I drifted off. They were nothing like the earlier show. More like wisps or ghosts of it, actually. But in general such things are not desirable sight-wise.

Recovery: day two, three, four, etc., etc.

My appointment the next day was for 1:30 PM, and I got up early. So once again I was stuck for hours in my helpless state.

Around 2 PM that day I got the metal shield removed by one of my doctor's assistants.

I suspect my doc purposely has one of his prettiest assistants remove the shield. At least for men patients. For the effect of a gorgeous woman suddenly appearing before you in living color is just about the most powerful marketing gimmick you could have to insure patient satisfaction with the procedure-- and encourage them to have the second operation done too, as soon as possible.

Man, was she pretty! Ha, ha.

She put a drop in my eye and tested my vision. I was able to see half or more of the 20/20 line on the chart, with the operated eye.

My eye pressure was something like 50% above its normally already elevated rate, which wasn't good. And the doc warned me if the light show returned, or I expeienced any vision loss, to let him know right away.

America's 'can't be bothered' medical establishment and bureaucracy

Of course, America's different from lots of other countries in regard to getting in touch with your doctor-- especially a specialist like in this case-- on weekends, weeknights, or holidays. You'll usually just get some sort of answering service or machine during those times-- if your call is answered at all. I know this because of lots of research I've done comparing medical services and infrastructure among countries the past few years, as well as personal experience. That experience has been mainly in regard to my elderly parents and their own increasingly frequent medical treatments and related needs. Though some has involved little kids' treatments too.

So if anything really scary happened at the most inopportune moment-- like after twelve noon on a Friday (my eye doc's office closes early on Fridays, no holiday required)-- I'd probably be reduced to visiting a general purpose hospital emergency room, rather than being able to contact my eye doc over the next 60 hours or so.

I've several times in the past been exasperated by the US healthcare system in regards to getting attention when urgently needed. Once decades back a dentist extracted a tooth from my dad, and many hours later it was still bleeding so profusely I took him to the hospital, because I was afraid he was going to bleed to death. And of course, the dentist responsible was well incommunicado by that time. I remember finally roaming the halls at random demanding someone treat my dad because he was bleeding to death right there in the building. The closer I came to being a lunatic loosed in the halls of the hospital, the more attention I got-- and my dad's situation finally got resolved.

Note that my dad at the time had health insurance through his employer. The old-fashioned kind, that was actually worth having.

Decades later, the US situation has changed little, if at all. And if anything, just for the worse. The very day I write this, my dad is being jerked around by his doctor about a newly prescribed blood pressure drug which seems to be causing him to break out in hives. According to my old book "Where there is no doctor", you're supposed to immediately stop taking any medicine that causes that, and never take it again. Plus, dad's new drug's own fine print papers from the pharmacy says something along the same lines. And dad's hives only appeared after he started taking that drug-- and lessened when he tried NOT taking it for a couple days. And yet his doctor refuses to believe the drug is responsible, and instead merely added a skin cream to dad's prescription. A skin cream which hasn't seemed to help even after several days.

To make matters worse, the new drug is a different blood pressure medicine than dad's original drug for that condition. The original drug has caused dad no such problem. But when his blood pressure meds dosage needed to be increased, dad's doc added the new drug as the incremental addition every day, rather than merely upping the original kind.

My dad continues to suffer, continues pleading with his doctor to do something about it, and continues to be ignored.

I think dad's going to have to change doctors. If he can survive long enough. In the meantime, while he's waiting to get another chance to plead his case with his present doctor, he's also going to get another opinion from a pharmacist on the matter too-- to see if he can get any relief that way.

He's also made an appointment with a skin specialist, to see if he can get help there. His hives are itching him badly.

These days I hear fewer and fewer people defending America's current healthcare system. Stuff like this is probably why.

One bad eye plus one good eye equals a smaller improvement overall than you might expect

When my eye shield was removed I was scheduled to have another eye exam two weeks later. Probably mostly to check my pressure. I sure hope I don't have to start taking those liquid gold eye drops again! Sheesh!

I felt pretty good with the restored vision in the one eye.

Unfortunately, the bad vision in the other still made everything around me look jarring, unless I closed the bad eye completely. For your brain tries to combine the two different vision sources into one picture.

Artificial lens 20/20 vision isn't quite as good as that of natural 20/20 lenses

My depth perception is also way off-- making me somewhat clumsy in regards to judging distances. And though my newly fixed eye may rate 20/20 at six feet or farther, that's NOT the same 20/20 you'd have with a natural lens. For the artificial lens can't adjust over as wide a distance as the natural.

For instance, a natural 20/20 lens might adjust to let you see small lettering crisply at six feet distance AND tiny anti-counterfeiting fine print on a dollar bill just an inch or two away.

The artificial 20/20 starts losing legibility of fine detail fast at around six feet distance and closing. At least in my case.

There's no way I could read a normal text-sized novel with my fixed eye now-- even at extreme arm's length. I'd definitely have to have reading glasses (or prescription lenses) of some sort for that kind of close functionality.

This means I also have trouble (with the operated eye) seeing fine detail of my person nearer than six feet away: like if I've missed a spot shaving. Or need to remove a splinter. Or trim a nail.

The effects of floaters in your vision

My vision floaters are still with me too, and interfering with my eye sight same as ever. They seemed notably absent the very next day after the operation, but after that got very bad-- possibly as one reaction to the eye drop regimen. But my floaters status has seemed quite random for years now. I've tried to notice how diet and other things might change them for better or worse, but discovered little rhyme or reason to their rise and fall in annoyance. Except possibly for insufficient sleep, the drinking of fruit juices, and eating junk food like pizza maybe increasing them at times. Stress too might play a role. And coffee. The more and stronger coffee doses you take, the stronger the floaters I believe.

It may also be that getting too much of certain vitamins might do it as well. As they seemed to fade somewhat after those days where I might have taken nothing more than my essential B12, plus some D.

But my present post-op drops seem to have increased them quite a bit. And so the floaters are infuritatingly interfering with my vision. In the first week after the operation, when I've also had to cut down my vision by wearing those sunglass things (and couldn't help my bad eye with glasses in a practical manner, as I had before), this has all totaled out to vision sometimes actually as bad or worse than pre-op! Agh!

But hopefully things will improve once I can stop the drops, and keep off the sunglasses. But mostly I need that second operation too, to rid myself of the present jarring dichotomy in my visual fields. As well as some new eyeglasses to restore to me good vision closer than six feet away. But I think I read somewhere your fixed vision doesn't settle down permanently for at least some weeks after the operations, and so you have to wait to get a reading for anything like expensive prescription glasses.

How to use eye drops effectively

Using eye drops is a hassle. Especially if you're suffering vision problems already, or recovering from an operation.

If you have a live-in family member or friend or handy and helpful next door neighbor you can call upon to help you with dispensing your eye drops, that can be great!

But alas: many of us don't.

For many months some years back I had to do it nightly, myself, and became fairly proficient at it. Now I'm having to recall those techniques.

Eye drop bottles vary in their convenience of use. Some are relatively large and easy to squeeze bottles which allow you to well control the timing of your drop falling into your eye (if not the amount). Others are like little fairy bottles for Peter Pan's Tinkerbell, in that they're not much bigger than a fat tadpole-- but paradoxically so immensely structurally strong only grown men have any shot at squeezing out a drop at all.

In some cases these tiny almost incompressible bottles will also sport tips which will refuse to allow liquid to pass on any schedule but maybe some ten minutes after you first began straining to prop your eyelids open to receive it.

However, much also depends upon the type of liquid residing in those tiny bottles. And how you store them.

In the case of my hugely expensive glaucoma drops, I'd keep the bottle in the refrigerator, only taking it out to dispense the drops into my eyes (the medicine's fine print did not prohibit such refrigeration). The advantage of this was that it would cause either or both the liquid and air inside to expand for thermal reasons while I held it suspended upside down over my eyes at room temperature and between my warm fingers, thereby forcing a drop to fairly readily form and then fall in a predictable fashion when required.

Note that it sometimes helps to hold the bottle in such a way that you can gently tap it with a finger several times too, to force the drop to fall sooner rather than later (it can be amazing how long a single drop can remain just on the verge of falling otherwise).

All this helps tremendously when you're dealing with incompressible tiny bottles with tight dispensing tips.

But all that's only half the battle. For our eyes are built to avoid letting stuff fall into them like that, at all costs. It's literally an unnatural act.

So special techniques are required there too. Otherwise you may often miss getting the drops into your eye at all. Or worse.

It doesn't hurt to wipe your lower eyelid area dry with a kleenex before using drops. As any skin grease or wetness can make things too slippery there, plus possibly get into your eye and cause watering which will dump your medicine out before it can work.

You also should wash your hands, making sure any fingertips which will be prying open your eyelid are clean. But rinsing is vitally important too: you do NOT want soap residue being left on the finger tips, for much the same reason you don't want skin grease on your face in the vicinity.

Those folks with unusually heavily ridged finger prints-- or maybe suitably configured finger nails-- might have an easier time holding open their eyelids than the rest of us. Me, my nails are normally too short to help there, and my fingerprints worn down from heavy use at work and other chores. So I usually must catch the lip of my bottom eyelid under one finger tip to be able to keep it open for any appreciable length of time. Otherwise it'll slip free before I get my drop in.

I usually lay down on a bed to dispense drops. With my head pretty much horizontal. Maybe even very slightly tilted backwards beyond the horizontal.

I try to position the dropper nozzle above my face to aim slightly below the center of my eye: for otherwise it's too easy for your drop to land on the upper eyelid instead.

Take your time at this point. For sometimes that drop will defy all expectations and descend the very first second after you bring the bottle into position and turn it upside down. So focus on trying to get it properly positioned immediately there.

Usually though it'll take at least a few seconds wait for the drop to fall (especially if you're using an incompressible Tinkerbell bottle).

Once you have the bottle aimed, you should look away from the bottle. Like up towards your forehead. Why? To defeat your eye's natural reflex to try closing if it sees something dangling above, or actually falling into it. You're only holding open your bottom eyelid, remember: your top lid can still descend quickly, and catch the drop before it gets in.

After the drop's fallen in, you have another problem: confirming success.

This is another excellent reason for refrigeration of eye drops in some cases (where not prohibited by the drug's fine print). For the cold liquid hitting your eye ball will be easily felt.

Other times the drop may be so big, or viscous, or stinging in effect, you'll detect it for those reasons.

Lastly, after you get up from the drop session, in a mirror you might see excess from the drop having emerged from one or both corners of your eye afterwards, and trailed down your face. That's another way to confirm it landed where it was supposed to.

On the other hand, you may also see signs it landed on an eyelid or cheek instead-- in which case you may have to try again.

Of course, some medicines might have warnings about second tries if you think even a little of the drug made it to your eyeball (the overdose problem). In ALL cases, do your best to abide by the paperwork instructions related to your drugs!

It's often a good idea to wash or wipe off any eye drop liquid which ends up in places other than in your eye. Like down your face, or on your fingertip. For some of that stuff can be absorbed through your skin-- and by definition, an eye drop's supposed to be in your eye-- not elsewhere!

But don't get soap and water in your eye either, if you can help it. In my cataract surgery case, that's a major NO-NO for a full week after the operation.

So yes: you may be doomed to a full week of bad hair days after the operation too! Ha, ha. (I wore a baseball cap for that)

My drops regimen lasts a full month, with the most drops required up front, winding down in rigor week by week.

I sketched a quickie calendar like layout on a sheet of paper, and marked the recovery milestones indicated by my paperwork. Such as how long I had to avoid getting soapy water in my eye, how long I had to avoid straining physical exertion, etc., etc. Also, the eye drop regimen required. As one medicine's name began with a "P" and one a "Z", I scribbled a column of Z's and one of P's into each day's square as many times as indicated in my post-op instructions. Then later, as I did a dose, I'd circle each Z or P to mark it completed.

It was a good thing I created this chart early on-- for my vision post-op was often so bad it would have been a considerably bigger hassle to go through the paperwork then, rather than before.

One thing I'd advise doing before the operation is going around closing all the curtains or window blinds in your house. For the daylight glare will be awful for you post-op, for days. Turning off the brightest lights might be advisable too.

Taping on the protective sleep shield nightly the first week

After the metal shield was removed by the doc's staff, I still had to tape it or a substitute provided by my eye doc's office over my eye every night before bed, to protect my eye from me accidentally rubbing it.

I assume the rubbing could in theory displace the implanted lens, and cause you all sorts of problems.

Taping on that shield is no small matter in itself, being basically a three-handed job. Doh!

For that and other reasons, if you can get someone else to install the shield over your eye before bedtime every night that first week of recovery, you'll have a much, much easier time of the whole process.

But lots of us likely won't have such help handy.

When my mom went through this years back, I tried my best to be around when she needed help with stuff like this. Dad did too, of course. But I think by her second operation she was doing it all by herself at least a few times.

I'd also helped her with the eyedrops quite a bit. That's something I forgot to mention before. Sometimes it might make things easier if you can have someone else around to put the drops in your eye for you.

I though, for my operation, had to do all the drops and eye shield taping myself. Although I have quite a few good and faithful family members who'd be glad to help me on many matters, none of them could be around to help me on these particular items, for various reasons. For one thing, I would have basically needed someone staying with me every day, all day, the first week. So if there was any way I could do it myself, that was highly desirable.

The eye drops expertise came back to me quite quickly. The shield taping though required some fresh improvisation.

One thing I remembered from my mom's operation was that I'd wished back then we'd taken a photo of how the hospital nurses had originally taped on the shield, as a guide for our own deeds, before it'd been removed the next day. For there's something of an art to it-- getting the tape strips of suitable length, and then applied just right to do the job.

So this time I asked my mom to take a shot and print it out. She did, and I later stuck that photo up next to a bathroom mirror where I could reference it for the tape application job.

A second thing I recalled was that we ran out of tape too early with mom that time. For even if someone's helping you install the shield at night, they too can make mistakes, and waste tape. Just wasting four strips or so could make the small roll supplied in the eye doc's post op kit run out days before the shield-wearing week is over. So it's advisible to have a friend buy you an extra spool of suitable tape either before the operation or soon thereafter. And not just any tape will do: if in doubt, ask a pharmacist for help in picking the proper tape at the drug store, and/or take the post-op kit-supplied roll with you as an example of what you need.

From the photo (and my earlier experience) I determined the lengths of the two pieces of tape required was around four and a half inches each.

So I'd cut two pieces to order, and carefully stick just the very end of each to the side of a ceramic sink, to make things easier.

Now came the three-handed part. I pondered on that a bit, and came up with a workable solution.

I dug up an old cheap baseball cap, which had a plastic adjustment band in the back with holes in it.

I also rounded up two somewhat long pieces of plastic coated wire ties I'd saved from the process of removing toys from packaging for kids on various Christmas days in years past (yes, I save wire ties, for they are very handy! A habit learned from the junkstorming taught me by my dad in my youth).

I then attached the two ties to a couple holes in the baseball cap adjustment band, so that they'd hang down from it, with a separation distance roughly the same as the shield I needed to tape onto my face.

Then I bent little "U" shaped hooks into the bottom ends of the wire ties, which would go into some convenient holes in the eye shield to left and right.

(This particular eye shield was a clear plastic affair with both round holes all through it, as well as large elongated vertical slots on its left and right sides, looking as if you could attach an elastic band to them to wear it like a pirate's eye patch. This clear shield was different from the metal shield installed at the end of my operation. I was told I could use either the metal shield or the plastic pirate patch for my nightly protection. The metal shield though doesn't have the slots conducive to using one of the techniques I describe here)

Making the hooks "U"-shaped rather than "L"-shaped seems safer in regards to accidentally poking your eye during the process. But you should also likely keep the eye to be covered closed while installing your shield, just in case.

Then I put the cap on my head backwards, so that the shield now hung in front of my eye from the wire ties.

Now I could simply bend the ties, or move the cap, to change where the eye shield was positioned, to get it where I wanted. After that was done, I simply retrieved a prepared tape strip and locked it down, using my photo for reference. Then repeated for the second strip. And lastly, carefully removed the wire tie hooks from the holes in the shield. And viola! My third hand device proved to be a success!

I think I've used it five times already, at the time I type this.

And yes, you want to exercise caution not to poke the end of a wire tie into your eye here! But it's not that difficult. Especially if the hooks bent into the ends are short, and "U" rather than "L" shaped.

BUT...if the cap and wire tie method seems too scary to you-- or you're even more clumsy than me at such things (wow! that's pretty clumsy!) I have a different method you can try.

Namely, using some very short tape loops on the underside of your plastic shield at bottom and the side nearest an ear, to temporarily hold the shield somewhat in place while you apply the two longer tape strips to the outer surface of your shield for the full-night attachment.

Yes, this will leave you sleeping with two 'pads' of adhesive tape between your face and the shield, as well as the usual strips on the outer side of the thing. And I'm not sure how comfortable that'll be. But it should work.

Still not sure what I mean? I'm talking about cutting two short pieces of the tape, then rolling them up so that one end attaches to the other to make a little tape cylinder, with the sticky side facing outwards. Then sticking one to the bottom of the shield and one to one side, BOTH on the surface of the shield which will be against your face.

You'll probably want to try flattening these things against the shield a bit in order to be able to get the shield positioned face-wise as well as possible before commiting to the location. Then press the shield firmly against your nose, eyebrow, and cheek bone (WITHOUT pressuring your eye ball), in order to get the tape cylinders to make a good grip between your shield and your face.

That should hold the shield in place well enough and long enough for you to apply the main tape stripes required for overnight usage.

One thing which might be nice about all this would be if the tape you used to attach the shield would last more than one night. So you could simply reapply the shield again with the old tape still criss-crossing it and in position, making installation a two-handed rather than three-handed job.

But it doesn't. After one use the tape loses its stickiness almost entirely.

You might need shield-type protection during the day too...

Those sunglass things do more than partially shield your sensitive eyes from bright lights: they also serve as a first line of defense against you absent-mindedly poking your finger into your recovering eye, or rubbing it, during its vulnerable healing process.

But as your light sensitivity fades-- and/or you find yourself leaving off the sunglasses in order to see what you;re doing-- you'll lose that protection.

This could be dangerous. Especially when you finally can see well enough to momentarily forget about your eye's fragile state.

For the operation and eye drops all seem to often make your fixed eye feel like it's got something in it. Therefore moving you to instinctively want to rub it. Yikes!

It'd be very, very easy to screw up your new eye this way.

But if you've left off the sunglasses-- and you can't wear your old eyeglasses due to them now screwing with your change in vision-- how can you protect your eye?

In my case, my junkstorming habits came to the rescue once more. For among my ancient discarded eyeglass sets were even one or two pairs the lenses had been lost from already, along the way.

Or, of course, I could have removed both lenses from a still complete set.

So anyway, I began wearing a set of lens-free frames with no lenses whenever I wasn't wearing the oversized sunglasses. That way I'd likely hit the frame any time I unwittingly went to rub my eye, and it'd remind me that that was a no-no.

Trying to get back to work ASAP...

So after getting the eye drops and nightly eye shield installation routines down, I needed to somehow get back to work as soon as possible...

The light sensitivity thing prevented that for a while. My eyes simply weren't up to much.

But within a couple days the sensivity seemed to have lessened by quite a bit. And so I was able to make some attempts to get back to a normal routine of some kind...

Unfortunately, I was chagrined to discover I couldn't make much practical use of my old eye glasses for seeing purposes, even after the doctor had removed the protective shield. Not even a single pair, rather then the two sets I'd previously been using together.

I actually removed the lenses for the fixed eye from both frames to try it. But learned the resulting visual effect was much worse than simply wearing no glasses at all.

For although the lenses would indeed help me see clearer with my remaining bad eye, they also made the image I saw through them much smaller than the image I now saw with my fixed eye.

So using my one-eyed glasses for my bad eye, in concert with my fixed eye, made it seem like I was seeing the world through two way different TV sets: one giant-screen, and one miniature.

And when my brain tried to consolidate this into a single image, it pretty much gagged me, visually speaking.

It was simply unworkable. Unless I completely closed one eye or the other.

So I had to give up on that for any sort of sustained usage. And just see the world clearly from one eye, and barely legibly through the other.

I can see now why my mom years back was anxious to get the second operation done too, as soon as possible. For it's extremely annoying and even hazardous to walk around with one eye working and the other not. Or having one see so much better than the other, I mean. In many ways it'd be far easier to get by if both were of similar capacity. Or you were simply one-eyed, period.

Although I couldn't use my old eyeglass lenses in any fashion but by closing my fixed eye first, that did come in handy for many times when the eye drops were stinging and watering my fixed eye so bad for many minutes at a time. For using my bad eye with some old glasses enabled me to do more than just sit there and wait for the annoyance to pass.

The first week: good days and bad days

Early on, the light sensitivity seemed to fluctuate wildly from one day to the next-- sometimes even from one hour to the next.

The post-op eye drops seem to exert their own adverse effects on your eyes. Like making them start spontaneously stinging and watering so bad at times you pretty much must become totally inert and simply wait for it to pass. Such breaks can easily last 15 minutes at a stretch. And although they can come about immediately on the heels of an eye drop session, they can just as easily come out of nowhere smack in the middle of the several hour span between dropping sessions.

Even when the drops don't render your eye completely useless for 15 minutes, they sometimes reduce your practical vision for a while after the dosing, making things blurrier than usual.

And of course, as I mentioned before, the drops may make your floaters heavier than usual, thereby detracting from your visual acuity in that fashion too.

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