Some of you may know that I have eye problems... but I'm new to this game, take me back 18 months and I had some pretty good peepers all considering, and only a very light prescription for reading. I'd known I had a cataract in my left eye for a few years, it was causing me more and more frequent headaches and migraines but the vision in it was still good. But in 2007 my optician recommended (in hindsight, very poorly) I should get it done. I had a referral to the hospital, a couple of appointments, and then the op. Since then I've never really been able to see properly out of my left eye. If you don't know (and it's worth remembering in case you ever need to), when you have a cataract done, they take away your lens and replace it with a plastic one. The plastic lens is set at a 'FIXED' focus. The snazzy 'zoom' feature, that you always took for granted (and didn't know was there anyway) is no longer.... you know the one, the thing that means you can focus on that mountain way over there, the river just ahead of you, and the book in your hand, all at the same time. With a plastic lens, just ONE of those will be in focus.... well, if you're lucky. I wasn't and all 3 are now out of focus in my left eye. Long vision is the least bad, but it's still 'out'... close up and reading there is nothing there at all... hold a magazine or book up to me, and all I'll see in my left eye will be a white squarish blur (no lines, let alone words). The vision in my two eyes is now wildly different, and the two eyes do not operate as a team any more... in fact, it gives a very disorienting 'combined' picture.
I've spent pretty much the last 18 months desperately trying to improve it, I've been to countless specialists (including Moorfields Eye Hospital), but, to put it bluntly, I'm fucked. I was very badly advised. Old people have this op done every day, and are up and running again within 24 hours. But by the time you are 60+ the muscles in your eye are pretty much dead, and the replacement of the lens causes minimal discomfort, and usually an improvement in sight. My eye muscles were strong, and as such I was in excruciating pain for over a month after the op, and because the eye behind my lens was so strong and healthy (there was nothing at all wrong with my eye itself, just the lens), my sight went, in one day, from that of a 40 year old to that of an average 80 year old. It has since been explained to me like this.... If you had a million pound camera, and put a lens on it that you bought from the pound shop, your pictures will still be shit. Sure, the cataract would have got me in the end, but maybe I could have got another 5, 10, maybe 15 years out of it before it really needed doing (and my eye and eye muscles would have deteriorated accordingly too).... I'm sure I would have been able to enjoy my sons early life more too (he was 3 months old when I had it done). Of course hindsight is a wonderful thing, and none of these little pearls of wisdom and caution were given to me BEFORE the op.... just wise words after.
I now own SIX different pairs of glasses, and during a day will wear them all at some point. I also wear contacts every other day, but still have to use at least another two pairs of glasses on top of the contacts during the day. What's more annoying is that my right eye is still so good, it doesn't even NEED correction... but because of the way glasses work, and the unwanted 'magnification' they give off, I have to subject my good eye to the same prescriptions regardless to match the picture. My vision gets worse in the evenings and also in the winter, when there is no natural lighting... in fact, sometimes in the evening none of my 6 pairs of glasses even work. In short, this 15 minute operation has taken much of the fun out of life, and things you never even used to think about have become a chore, whilst other things are now so much effort, that all 'enjoyment' is gone.
I have been a book lover since I was a small child. I've always been fascinated with them, and can think of little else to top the joy of sitting with a good book and a cup of tea next to the open fire (yes, we do have one!)... but the op changed all this... I can't read for very long now, much beyond 30 minutes will have my eyes aching, and the vision starts to deteriorate further. Books with small print in I can't read at all, as even with glasses on it'll set off eyestrain and pain within minutes. Computers are copeable, as I can change the screen resolution, but regrettably you can't do the same with the printed word.
But becoming bad-sighted overnight does not immediately change how you think. I've always been a bugger in a bookshop, and can come out with 4 or 5 titles in a visit. And I'm still programmed to do it, I can't stop myself, I genuinely love books "ohh that looks interesting, I bet that's fascinating etc etc". It take a few minutes to buy 5 books, but how long to read em these days??
My book cupboards and book shelves have been overflowing with books I've bought and not read. Some were bought before the op, many more were after. I've never quite come to terms with the fact that things will never be the same (and to be honest, I'm not entirely sure that I ever will). It broke my heart to see at all those wonderful tomes that I'll now almost certainly never get round to reading... I mean how many books are left in me now anyway?? It takes me literally months to get through a decent sized paperback. Regrettably, book reading is a hobby that I have now been forced out of.
So earlier in the week I went through them all, and bagged a good 50-60% of em up, and yesterday I distributed them across just about every charity shop in the area (there was way to many to put in one shop, and everyone got at least 3 bags worth!). I've kept a few that I'm determined to get through one day, but I must now try and keep away from bookshops or else another mass of unreads will be acquired.
Hmmm, I appreciate this isn't one of my usual 'jolly' posts, but I guess I'm just not feeling quite as jolly as usual... I'll try harder to be less moany next time I promise!