Sunday, May 06, 2012

Color Perceptions & Cataracts

lens with cataract sees this ^                           artificial lens sees this ^

fast growing kind
went from vision corrected to 20/20 three years ago
to 20/25 two years ago
and last year
to 20/35 in one eye
20/40 in the other eye

a month ago rated 3+
on a scale of 1 to 4
4 is legally blind

growing over the lenses
darkening, blurring and yellowing vision
brain adjusting as the cataracts progress
until one night
can't see well enough to drive safely
until one day
everything in the grocery store is a blur
indistinguishable blobs on the shelves
until one day
big struggle to thread a needle
even when aided by a lit magnifier

surgery different now
not like when Mom had it done
no pain
like in a dream
watching the procedure
from another space-time
a little cut
insert miniature jack hammer
break up the lens
insert miniature vacuum cleaner
remove pieces of lens
flush, flush
insert miniature polishing tool
whir, whir
polish the lens sack
flush, flush
insert artificial lens
spring opens lens
tape cup over eye
all done
go home
eye drops, eye drops, eye drops
four weeks of eye drops
then, finally
20/20 is restored

lens with cataract sees this ^                           artificial lens sees this ^

OK, you got it. I had cataract surgery four days ago in my left eye. My right eye will be done on May 16th. In the interim, it's the most fascinating thing to close one eye and then the other, alternating between cataract altered vision and "normal" vision. It's totally fascinating to compare color perceptions.

lens with cataract sees this ^                           artificial lens sees this ^

To show the difference, I worked this fountain picture in Photoshop.

One amazing thing about cataracts is that they make any bright light against a dark background have a rainbow halo.  A month ago, I came home totally in awe of the full moon, which was very yellow and had a distinct and bright rainbow halo. I told my husband to go look at the beautiful moon. He came back in and didn't say much. "Did you see that amazing halo?" I asked. He replied, "What halo?" I described it. "I didn't see a halo," he said. "Go look again," I urged. He did, but still didn't see a halo. We both went out and looked, both describing what we saw. Must have been something like the pictures below.

moon as I saw it ^                           moon as Robert saw it ^

Last night there was a full moon again. So, of course, I did the one eye, then the other eye thing on it, making it very clear that everything is in the eye of the beholder. I'm grateful for the chance to have seen a halo surrounding the full moon one last time. And I'm mighty grateful to modern medicine, which by the end of the month will have restored brightness, sharpness and saturated color to both of my eyes!