Wednesday 15 July 2009

second sight....

I've just realised that I spent some of this week last year flat on my back too: it's a year since my first eye operation*

I'm supposed to be lying pretty still now, but I've certainly never had a greater incentive not to move than I did on that day, when when I had a surgeon telling me to hold still as he punctured my eyeball with a needle..... The local anesthetic meant that I didn't feel any pain, but I could certainly feel the pressure as he pushed. I've still got a needle hole visible in the iris of each of my eyes today, actually. It wasn't as bad as it sounds, and there was actually something deeply reassuring about the quiet assurance of the surgical team as they pushed and pulled and cut at my eyeball as I watched. The second eye was done under a general anesthetic, but I found that a lot more difficult to recover from, and I almost reckon it would have been better to be conscious throughout the whole procedure again. Almost.

It is one year today since I last wore glasses.

Let me say that again: after 30 years of more-or-less uninterrupted glasses wearing, I have just gone 365 consecutive days without wearing them once. I've barely even touched them.

Oh sure, I had to wear a contact lens in the uncorrected eye for the week between operations, and I've had some ups and downs since then, but isn't that an amazing thing? It's not all been plain sailing: I get some ghosting in low light conditions when my pupil goes past the edge of the (smaller) lens that is correcting the big astigmatism in my right eye; I had some early trouble with - imagined - fogging of the vision in my left eye as my brain adjusted to my new vision; a stitch popped out and caused me some bother for a couple of weeks; I occasionally find that my right eye takes a moment or two to focus properly.... but my quality of life has fundamentally changed in a relatively small but still significant way. I can see. My eyesight was poor enough that I always felt that I needed to consider a worst case scenario. What if my glasses broke? What if my contact lenses fell out? Without correction, I was pretty significantly handicapped - something that was brought home to me one day when I broke the lenses of my glasses when staying at C's flat one night, and then needed to be physically guided the 500m or so home to find my spare pair. Whenever I travelled anywhere, I always had to bear this in mind and plan accordingly by taking a spare pair of glasses or a pair of contact lenses with me at all times. Although I mainly wore contact lenses when at Glastonbury or when skiing, I always had a plan B, and I always carried around a contact lens case, some solution, some water-free soap and a pair of glasses, just in case. And a good cleaning cloth. I never went anywhere without a good cleaning cloth in my pocket.

Not any more.

It doesn't sound like much, but for the last twelve months, and as a result of those two operations, my life has changed for the better in countless tiny ways: I have been able to read the time on my watch on the bedside table without needing to pick it up; I can go out in the rain and into a hot, steamy room without then needing to grope for a cleaning cloth; I am free from those debilitating obsessions over imaginary scratches and invisible marks on my nose; I can share those spontaneous, intimate moments of everyday life with my wife without needing to squint through the blur.....

I had perfectly functional vision with glasses, of course, and all of those things are hardly insurmountable, but I rolled the dice and I've been very, very happy with the results. Sometimes it's easy to lose sight of the bigger picture amongst the smaller dissatisfactions of everyday life, and it's not all been good news for me in the last twelve months, but that operation of a year ago has genuinely changed my life for the better.



* The whole story of me and my eyes can be found here, but in a nutshell, instead of having laser surgery, I decided to have phakic intraocular lenses surgically inserted into my eyes to correct my myopia.


  1. I still flirt with the idea of having my eyes lasered, especially now that the prices seem to be falling. (One positive side-effect of the recession!) Perhaps 2010 will be the year I overcome my squeamishness and take the plunge. I'd definitely love to kiss goodbye to my lenses and glasses and their accompanying bits and bobs.

  2. I've been thinking about laser eye thing too but have never felt brave enough and I manage well with my contact lenses, don't speak to me about glasses, i can't abide them, and feel there is too much going on, on my face and really struggle to eat when i have them on. I can't seem to find my mouth (why this is I have NO idea!)

    I really find the whole messing with eye thing really cringe making and doubt I'll ever take the plunge, I'm such a wuss.

    N xxxx

    p.s hope you are feeling a bit better