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Nobody thinks to tell you…

May 28, 2010

Betty’s Cataract Surgery, Part 3

Betty after eye surgery

Betty sporting an eye patch after surgery

Betty and I are still getting used to her new eyes. Her second surgery was last week and Betty has new habits to develop. First, she’s learning to stop looking for her glasses in the morning. It’s such a deeply ingrained habit to put them on as soon as she gets up. Second, we chose single lens, distance vision for her implanted lens, so her eyes are now the opposite of what she’s used to. This means she can watch captioned TV and do most things in her life without glasses, but now she needs to remember to carry her reading glasses around.

One of the things I learned is that friends who had the surgery some time ago got clear lenses, and have to wear the same glasses after their operation. Now, the lens is made to your prescription, like a contact lens, and there are a number of options available. Betty may need prescription reading glasses after her eyes are fully healed, in part to correct for her astigmatism. But they will be a lot cheaper than the tri-focal, no line progressive lenses she has now. I mean, had before.

Eye surgery is a field that seems to be changing rapidly, which gives me some hope. Because I told Betty’s doctor that I didn’t want to go through this myself, so I’ve been reading up online, and to slow down the hardening of the lens, I should be taking Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Coenzyme-Q10, right? He said I have 3 choices: 1) don’t have many more birthdays, 2) let my lens cloud up and struggle to see, or 3) have cataract surgery. Right now the hardening and discoloring of the lens is a product of aging and most of us will need to have this surgery. But I’m 19 years younger than Betty, so maybe by the time I need it, all that will have changed.

I hope so, because I can’t give myself eye drops– I’m phobic. That’s one of the things nobody thinks to tell you– that there are lots and lots of eye drops involved in this process. Betty needed two different prescription eye drops for three days before the surgery, and three different drops for up to six weeks after the surgery. It’s a complicated schedule, too, with the right eye needing less drops now that it’s been three weeks, and the left eye needing more because the surgery was more recent. And some of the drops need to be taken 7 times a day! Plus she needs to use artificial tears several times a day from now on, to help prevent problems. Luckily, Betty isn’t phobic and can give herself the drops. I just don’t look.

Another thing nobody thinks to tell you, these eye drops are expensive. We spent about $110 on two prescriptions, that’s just the co-payment, after the insurance company’s payment. And it was for one eye– two weeks later we paid it again for the left eye. We had the money this time, but if this was two years ago, when the bottom fell out of the US economy, we couldn’t have paid.

Betty doesn’t look much like a pirate in the photo, does she? That’s another thing nobody mentioned. When our friend Sheila went through this about a week or so before Betty, she mentioned (on Facebook) that she had an appointment the next day to take off her eye patch. Eye patch = black = pirate, right? As you can see, that assumption was ever so wrong. The clear plastic shield was taped to Betty’s face, and she could see through it. On the drive home the first time, she kept talking about how clear everything looked.

And the last thing nobody thinks to tell you is that you’ll see the doctor and his staff pretty often. There are lots and lots of followup visits, at least three for each eye and maybe more. You need to see your general practitioner too, especially before the first surgery. I’m glad we found doctors, and their staff, that both of us like and trust. Thanks to all of you!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 3, 2010 12:11 am

    Another thing I found out recently, that no one thought to tell me. Insurance may not cover everything. Recently, we received two bills from the hospital, $300 each. This means we need to pay over $800 that the insurance doesn’t cover.

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