I am nearsighted.
Not your everyday, run-of-the-mill, I-can’t-see-the-bottom-line-on-the-eye-chart nearsighted; I instead am referring to objects further than six inches away appearing as a blurry mass. From the moment I rise until the last second before I go to bed, I must wear glasses. Should they fall and I can’t immediately find them, panic crushes me until I recover them. Without them, I am virtually blind. They feel as much a part of me as — quite literally — the nose on my face. I am fortunate however that my prescription allows correction to near perfection.
So, I became concerned when, of late, looking at light on dark, I have been experiencing “halos.”
Two examples: When the subtitles on the movie are white against black, the text is blurry. More problematic, when driving at night, although I can see clearly cars, roads, and signs; taillights and street lights lack the same crispness. It’s unnerving enough that I stopped going out after dark.
My father was a hypochondriac’s hypochondriac; he would solicit a second medical opinion when the doctor told him he was healthy. I don’t mean to make light of it; I point it out to somewhat explain my resistance to going to doctors; an irrational backlash to not being my dad. Therefore, for me to visit an eye specialist over my symptoms will shed some light (um, no pun intended) on how seriously I took this change in my vision and resultant alteration to my lifestyle.
If this scenario sounds familiar, you know where I’m going. If not, the cause of my optical degradation is cataracts. According to the Mayo Clinic, “A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of your eye. For people who have cataracts, seeing through cloudy lenses is a bit like looking through a frosty or fogged-up window. Clouded vision caused by cataracts can make it more difficult to read, drive a car (especially at night) or see the expression on a friend’s face.” Approximately 200,000 people per year in the U.S. suffer from them.
This week was my pre-op appointment.
The doctor exuded confidence, something important if you’re going to let him stick sharp objects in your eyeballs. Yet, as important to me, there was also a “human side.” He genuinely listened to my questions and was supportive, even nurturing, knowing I would be nervous. After all, he’s done this procedure numerous times. This will be my first and it’s rather personal to me. His extensive experience, coupled with a warm bedside manner, even calling me “my friend,” reassured me on so many levels. I even felt tinged with a bit of excitement.
The procedure lasts only about 15 minutes, although I will be at the hospital for the morning. To put me at ease and prevent pain during the operation, I will be injected with what he referred to as “liquid courage,” general anesthesia. It won’t put me out but will relax me. I was told how the customized lenses will be implanted and how they will affect my vision beyond the reparation of cataracts.
What most impacted me is that from wearing “coke bottle” spectacles every waking moment since I was eight, I will only require a very light prescription. Better yet, it will only be essential for reading, night driving, or seeing fine detail in the distance.
“I’ve worn glasses since I was eight, needed them since I was four,” I told him.
“You’ve probably always needed glasses,” he pointed out, “You were just too young to know it.”
As of early next month, for the first time in my life, that will no longer be true.
“I’m planning a 3,200-mile road trip this summer,” I said. “I know it’s silly, but this trip is me reclaiming myself after COVID. My fantasy is to wear the coolest non-prescription sunglasses ever. Will I be able to do that?”
“Yes,” he replied, I should be able to do that. Granted, wearing clip-ons purchased from your neighborhood pharmacy is a first-world problem of the highest order. Yet, I was overcome with emotion at the thought of such clear sight. Glasses are part of who I am. Not having to wear them changes my identity.
After everything we’ve gone through the last several years, I realized that I had forgotten what amazing beings we humans are; how much we are capable of doing. We hurl with precision rockets and pint-sized helicopters to distant planets; create vaccines to break a lethal global scourge — and give sight to an old guy like me who has never had it.
It’s an important reminder of how much we are capable of doing when we put our minds to it.
It gave me hope. I can see that clearly.
About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a professional speaker, motivator, and the founder of the Facebook group: Intentions • Affirmations • Manifestations. He leads zoom inspirational, practical workshops on the first and third Tuesday of each month at www.ThisTimeImeanIt.com/Tuesdays. Find out more via his mailing list at www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com/signup.