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Lens Replacement Theory: Part Three

Posted on Wednesday, June 5th, 2024

Dave!I'm talking about my cataract surgeries this week! If you missed Part One, you can find that here. And if you missed Part Two, you can find that here.

So... I've consulted with my doctor. I've consulted with the cataract clinic. I've selected my lens. I've selected the paralyzing injection. I've wiped out my Health Savings Account. Time to operate!

But first, a warning: so that you always have an operational eyeball, most cataract surgeons will not operate on both of your eyes on the same day. You'll get your worst eye done, then come back in a week or two to get your other eye done once you've healed up. If you have insurance which has an annual deductible, be absolutely sure that both of your surgeries and your follow-up appointments will be in the same deductible year, or else you'll be starting over and end up paying more money!

As I mentioned yesterday, I opted for the paralyzing injection so I'd be sure my eye wouldn't move during surgery. Once I've had my injection, my eye got taped shut so it doesn't dry out while I was waiting to go to the ER. They sat me in a comfy lounge chair where I was hooked up to a heartbeat and blood oxygen monitor. Both times I very nearly fell asleep.

Once I was in the ER, I was seated in another comfy chair and reclined until I was almost laying flat. They then taped a drape over my face and cut out the part over the eye getting operated on. They removed the tape forcing my eye closed, clipped my eye open, then irrigated it with saline until my surgeon arrived.

I truly wish that I could have gotten a DVD of my surgery, because it sounds fascinating (you can see surgeries and animations of surgeries on YouTube if you are interested).

A small incision is made into your cornea on the side that's closest to your ear. Then the surgeon inserts an ultrasonic wand to pulverize the lens that's in your eye so it can be sucked out in tiny pieces with a teeny-tiny vacuum. I heard a bunch of weird noises during this whole ordeal, as you can imagine, but I didn't feel anything. There was a bright light shining in my eye, so I couldn't really see what was going on either. It was just a bunch of shapes moving around.

The new lens is rolled up in a syringe, which they then insert into the incision. The doctor shoots it in the empty cavity, then it flattens itself out. The entire surgery took about ten minutes each time. But all told, I was probably at the clinic 90 minutes each time.

After surgery they tape your eye closed since it will still be paralyzed for 3-1/2 to 4 hours and you don't want it drying out since you can't blink. I was not able to feel most of the side of my face, including that side of my forehead to the top of my head.

Once you feel your eye waking up, your upper eyelid will hurt a bit because it's taped over your lower lid. With my first eye surgery, I assumed that this meant it was time to take the tape off. I was wrong. My eye was stuck looking up and off to the side! I am not embarrassed to say that it freaked me out a bit. I looked like a literal zombie. This isn't a big deal... you'll just be seeing double until your eye drifts back to being in sync with your other eye, and you'll have to keep douching your eye with saline until you are able to blink again.

They have to dialate your eye for days (literally, your eye won't be normal again for 2 to 3 days!), so be sure to have sunglasses handy if your clinic doesn't provide them to you.

Depending on the policy of the clinic you go to, you'll either be given a blend of medicines in a single eye drop bottle... or be given different bottles of individual medicines. This helps your eye heal and keeps it free from infection. I was instructed to use the single-drops I was given 4 hours apart from when I first wake up until they're gone.

Other than the drops, I was given two instructions: 1) Do not rub your eye, especially over where the incision is made, and 2) Do not get your eye wet.

And that's surgery. It probably sounds more scary than it is. Fortunately, I had an amazing clinic with amazing staff and amazing doctors and an amazing surgeon, so the entire ordeal simply wasn't a big deal to me. But I've had so many eye surgeries and procedures that it was just more of the same. I'd like to think that if you get an amazing clinic and staff, it won't be a big deal even if it's your first eye surgery.

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  1. Julia says:

    Nope, this doesn’t bother me at all. Which is shocking since I have GAD. Really, I’m fine. I’ll be fine when my turn comes. Yep. For sure. Just one more thing…


    • Dave2 says:

      The way that the surgery is made so pedestrian and uneventful by true professionals goes a LONG way towards easing your anxiety. Of which I had a lot, because any change to my vision that impairs my work could lead to my losing my job. All I can say is that doing some serious research into the professionals in your area to find the best fit is critical. I couldn’t be more thrilled with the company I ended up with.

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