The Good Eye

Smack dab in the middle of my visual field, in the eye I absolutely depend on, a cataract has been growing for some years. I became aware that my vision was dimmer this year as winter low light set in. I finally addressed the cause, with the help of my regular retinal doctor. It was time. On January 4, I submitted my good eye to lens replacement surgery. I was anxious, but I focused my mind on the very best outcome.

I think all went well, at least the doctor said so last week. There was, however, something unexpected. I learned the name of a new optical phenomenon, negative dysphotopsia. There is an unsettling, thin crescent of shadow on the outside of my peripheral vision. Two days post-op, on a weekend, I feared the onset of a retinal detachment and got evaluated right away by residents up at OHSU. They were thorough and ruled out a detachment. They also said, after describing to each other some worm-like shapes in my vitreous fluid, that there was nothing to laser. I thought to myself as I left them, well, that’s good, who wants to be lasered? I went home, still with the mystery shadow. Worms? Well, we’ll let that one go.

On Monday morning my doctor called and told me to Google the above optical phenomenon. He knew exactly what I was describing. He said it might or might not go away. It had to do with a space where the “off the shelf” lens didn’t quite fit my eye. He advised to try not to give it my attention because that would help it stick around. Okay, I will give that my all.

My visual acuity is about as before. For people with normal vision, cataract surgery can seem miraculous. Those of us with low vision, however, usually find that cataract surgery restores the look and awareness of the underlying eye condition. For me this looks like a whole lot of poor focus vision, now brighter with the cataract gone. Plus, now there is an annoying sliver of shadow.

Still, there is hope for better days. I have yet to get glasses to correct my astigmatism. Plus, the glasses will include the yellow, Corning filters that I’ve worn for 20 years to manage glare and increase contrast. And maybe tone that crescent down.

Just like the coming of spring, soon will not be soon enough!