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Lens Replacement Theory: Part Four

Posted on Thursday, June 6th, 2024

Dave!I'm talking about my cataract surgeries! If you missed Part One, you can find that here. And if you missed Part Two, you can find that here. And you definitely need to have seen Part Three, which is all about the surgery, which you can find here.

But today we're talking about after the surgery (Spoiler Alert: I could not be more thrilled with the results).

That first day you wake up after your second surgery when both of your eyes have had their lenses replaced, prepare to be in shock if you had a heavy eyeglasses prescription like I did. You open your eyes and... the world is in focus! You can see! It's definitely weird. But even weirder? It's kinda been messing with my head when I'm trying to fall asleep. Since I had been taking my glasses off before my head hits the pillow for decades, I think my brain uses that as a clue that it's time to start falling asleep. But now that everything is in focus when my head hits the pillow, my brain is still thinking that I'm not ready to sleep because I can see. No idea how long it will be before my brain understands that this is not how it works any more, but hopefully it's not too long.

But the strangest thing by far post-surgery is how I'm perceiving things around me. I thought that cataracts were only affecting my night-vision. Not being able to drive at night was what pushed me to get things fixed, after all. But I had no idea whatsoever that my day vision had been compromised. Badly. This was most obvious when I had only one eye's lens replaced. This is an (exaggerated) simulation of what I was seeing when I switched from one eye to the other...

Yellow-ish vision vs. Blue-ish vision!

My cataract eye looked dingy and yellow. My fixed eye looked cool, crisp, and blue-toned.

And then it hit me... my progression to dingy yellow vision happened over a long period of time. And my brain just kept remapping colors so that white still appeared white in my head, even though it was no longer very white at all. So once one eye got fixed, all of a sudden I was seeing white as being truly white in that eye. And since my brain had remapped color, it appeared blue-toned because it was no longer yellow-tinted.

Once my second eye got fixed, I had no way to compare what I had been seeing to what I was seeing after surgery. But the re-re-mapping must have already begun, because I wasn't seeing everything as if it had been blue-shifted. I did, however, see white as being very, very white. My toilet was frickin' gleaming!

Right now I'm kinda in-between. In another week once I've forgotten what my dingy eyes used to see, and my brain has finished re-re-mapping colors, I'm guessing that everything will settle down and my normal will be back to... well, normal... again.

One thing that I hope won't be going away any time soon is the clarity of what I'm seeing. My glasses were very thick, so there was a distortion to what I saw. And because there was refraction and grime and dust accumulation going on, I never saw things with any real clarity (though it was better than what I got out of multifocal contacts, because they weren't sliding around with every blink). I watch television now and, day or night, a 4K picture makes a big difference. It's so noticeable that when I look at SD (standard definition) content, it just doesn't look crisp to me any more (even though my television upscales and sharpens it). Never used to bother me, now it does.

And now a bit about my lens choice...

As you may remember in Part Two, I had to make a choice as to which lenses I'd get implanted. I opted for the Multifocal 2-Zone lenses because I didn't want to rely on glasses like I would have to with a monofocal lens, and was concerned with losing contrast which was more likely with a 3-Zone lens.

NEAR-VISION: I used to wear progressive bifocals to see near-to-far. I was told that with Multifocal 2-Zone lenses my clarity of sight would begin at 24-28 inches. I figured this would cover most of what I'm trying to see... 95% minimum. For that remaining 5% I'd just buy some reading glasses. So long as I could glance between working on my laptop and looking at my television without issue, I'd be fine. I was concerned about using my mobile phone since I do that a lot and I generally hold the phone fairly close. Turns out I had nothing to worry about. I can see my mobile perfectly if I hold it just a little bit further out (but not comically far away). To make it even less of an issue, I switched my iPhone to large-sized, bold dynamic text and turned on "Display Zoom." Anything closer than 18 inches is too blurry to be much use but, for me, that zone of 18-to-26 inches is okay, 26 inches to infinity is flawless. The only time it's been an issue is when I got a sliver in my finger and couldn't see to pull it out because I didn't have any readers handy. Guess I need to start stashing them everywhere like I do with tape measures.

BRIGHT LIGHT: Interesting to note that the lights in my house seem much brighter to me when it's dark out. It's like replacing a 75-watt bulb with a 100-watt bulb. At least it would be if my lights weren't all LED now. That will take some getting used to because not all my lights have dimmers on them.

CONTRAST: I am thrilled to say that, in my specific case, contrast is actually better than it was before my surgeries. Probably because everything is so much more clear and not because I'm actually getting more contrast. After my first eye was fixed, I would spend a lot of time comparing how I was seeing out of one eye vs. the other. There was no contest on contrast. After worrying so much about the risk of losing some of it, it was bizarre to find out that there was improvement. I went out walking around three nights in a row, and it was always the same... left eye in glasses: blurry mess where it's hard to pick out details... right eye after surgery: crisp with good definition. I know this won't be the case for everyone, so I feel fortunate. It does kinda make me wonder if I should have gone for the 3-Zone lenses after all. But no regrets. I love what I have, and feel good in my decision to go the more cautious route (because it's not like you can just swap for a new pair of lenses).

HALOS: When it comes to bright lights in darkness, yes there are halos that appear. But it's nothing compared to what I was seeing with cataracts. No more big blurry blobs dancing across my vision and obscuring my sight. I can watch movies in a dark room. I'm no longer afraid to drive at night. It's a huge plus. Yes, there's still glare, but I'm told that as my brain starts to adapt it will lessen more and more.

So... that's all the pros of my cataract surgery... are there any cons? We'll find out tomorrow!

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  1. Then there was Monet who destroyed some of his works because they were all in the wrong colour before he had a cataract fixed..

    • Dave2 says:

      When I was studying art, this was a big topic because it leads to bigger descriptions of perception vs. reality. Despite it all, Monet managed to create astounding beauty at all periods of his life.

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