Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Posts Tagged ‘cataracts

Revitalizing Sight Doesn’t Mean Sore Eyes

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“Certainly we encourage you to eat breakfast,” the doctor’s assistant smiled through the phone when I called a couple of hours before my scheduled laser eye surgery.

I hadn’t been able to eat after midnight on each of the two days when my cataract-clouded lenses were replaced with modern-technology’s prescription lenses designed to end some six decades of requiring spectacles to see.

And I asked how long we would be. The technician checked my file and said, “I see we’re doing both eyes so you should be in and out of here within an hour.”

Both eyes! No one had told me that.

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Which is one of the major reasons for this piece.

Always ask, and keep on asking, whenever you undergo anything medical. No matter what. In this case, it wasn’t shocking to hear both eyes would be repaired at the same time. But not knowing could have been a problem when I filled out the required pre-surgery paperwork.

Right at the beginning, the form asks what you’re in for: Right Eye, Left Eye, or Both Eyes. I knew they were going to correct the major astigmatism in my right eye because computer images showed a major flaw on the orb. I would have circled Right Eye and set myself on a course that would have been trouble for the team assembled to correct my vision.

Both sides were to blame for this communications gap. I hadn’t asked and they must have assumed someone told me.

It all began more than a dozen years earlier when my eye doctor, during a routine annual eye exam, commented that I should look forward to removal of my cataracts because I would be able to junk my glasses. I had been wearing “Coke bottle” prescription glasses since I was nine when we moved from a rural hamlet into the city and a school nurse discovered I had to look cross-eyed to read.

I had noticed I was losing some of my night vision. It was nothing drastic but the ey doctor got me thinking and I began shopping around for prices. The question was how much it would cost and what was entailed in removing my cataracts and eliminating my need for glasses, which were costing around $500 a year. I went to three other doctors besides my own.

All four described what I call Steps 1, 2 and 3. Step 1 entailed the removal of my cataract-clogged lenses and replacement with a plain lens and continue wearing glasses as I had most of my life. Medicare covered almost all the cost of this.

Step 2 was to have a short-sighted lens placed in one eye and a far-sighted lens in the other eye and, while my eyesight would improve, I would still require reading glasses. This required some additional out-of-pocket costs.

Step 3 entailed removing the impaired lenses, and replacing them with prescription lenses. This involved the most out-of-pocket costs. The extra costs involved in Step 2 and Step 3 ranged from about $2,000 for each eye to $7,000 per eye.

I decided to stick with my doctor, because his prices, while not the lowest, were on the lower side of the median. I chose Step 3 because it also included the cost of correcting the astigmatism in my eyes. Reviewing what I paid for eye exams and eyeglasses each year, my surgically new eyes would pay for themselves within five years.

I chose to have the second lens implanted two weeks after the first. I had trouble waiting that long after receiving the first implant. The result was fantastic. I could see out of that news lens immediately. The procedure ate up most of the morning but the surgery itself took about 10 minutes. Stated simply, the clouded lens is sucked out and a plastic lens – think of a small contact lens – with spring-loaded sides to hold it in is set into your eye. The rest of the time was used up in preparing for surgery and staying put for observation immediately afterwards.

About a month later, I was waltzed into surgery again to have astigmatism in each eyeball corrected by laser surgery. That, too, was a breeze.

But I wasn’t through, and that’s what we were dealing with in this latest development. What occurred to me happens in one-third to half of the cases of lens-implant procedures. I had to have what is called secondary cataracts removed.

Your natural lens sits in a small sac in your eye. When the natural lens is removed, the front of that membranous sac is opened to remove the cataract lens and insert the artificial lens. In cases such as mine, the portion of the membrane remaining behind the artificial lens can cloud over, becoming what medics refer to as a secondary cataract.

The process was simple and discomfort free. I was taken in for an eye exam, my pupils dilated with eye drops and, while the doctor peered into my eyeballs with those white lights like he usually does, I heard a series of muffled “pop-pop-pops.” Each eye took less than a minute. I felt nothing. The popping was laser shots poking holes in the remaining membrane to let light through.

But the results were immediate. I was back to reading the newspaper with ease without reading glasses.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

January 9, 2022 at 3:00 am

Posted in Health

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More from the Old Newspaperboy No. V

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Milt Robinson is perched prominently in my memory banks. I have no idea what ever happened to him and I remember little about him. But his image still glistens in my brain. He was the first person I saw when I got my first pair of glasses. And he watched me make a spectacle of myself as I stumbled over a block or so of Main Street as my brain adjusted to my new spectacles. I was nine years old.

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From the beginning. Much of my first decade on earth was spent learning how to see. Fortunately, I was far-sighted and, by squinting and crossing my eyes, learned to read people’s body language and movements, and facial expressions as well as lips. This all helped me tremendously for the rest of my life.

I don’t ever remember not being able to read, but I had to look cross-eyed to make out the words, or anything else I wanted to see clearly.

While I was born in town (in an apartment my mother rented over a small grocery store at the corner of First Avenue and Wylde Street just down the hill from St. Vincent de Paul Church) almost all my earliest years were spent in Feronia, a hamlet that was a seven-mile walk from town and is now a suburban enclave of North Bay.

After enrolling when I was 5 years old in the one-room schoolhouse that housed grades one through 10, I skipped grade two because I could read and knew my addition and subtraction tables and was Miss Brunella Guenther’s star pupil until our family moved into town on New Year’s Day 1943. My father finally snagged a spot with the section gang working out of the main yard (where the round house and maintenance facilities were) of the Temiskaming & Northern Ontario Railway, which later became the Ontario Northland Railway.

School resumed for me at St. Rita’s Separate School when the Christmas holiday ended. Other than being a stranger in the schoolyard for a bit, the major memorable event that spring was beginning to sell newspapers – The North Bay Daily Nugget — on the street.

I’d tried taking on a weekend Toronto Star route. That’s when I saw German prisoners of war in their denim overalls and smocks with the large red circle on their backs stretching their legs around the Canadian National Railways station when I picked up the papers early Friday mornings. The POWs were being herded out to camps/farms out West.

The Star route lasted only three weeks because the four brothers who had the route before me made the collections the day before I delivered the papers and the route manager didn’t do anything about it. Fortunately, my mother deterred him – loudly — from extracting payment from me for the papers. That whole episode became part of my education.

When school resumed in the fall, among the earliest events was a visit by the school nurse. One of her chores was to give everyone an eye test. The only thing I recall about that is the look on her face that made me think I was really stupid. She was just amazed that I could function as well as I did. She got the news to my parents that I had a vision problem.

As it turned out, my mother had begun cleaning downtown offices for a few clients to augment our income. (We also took in roomers for the three upstairs bedrooms in the large house we rented). One customer was Ken Barry, who happened to be an optometrist. And he outfitted me with my first pair of glasses — appurtenances I wore for more than six decades until I had my cataracts lasered and replaced by tri-focal inserts nine years ago.

Back to Milt Robinson. As I said, I remember very little about him but I recall he was a classmate because we both ran downtown after the final afternoon school bell to purchase our armfuls of Nuggets to sell on the street. After a quick paper-sales run through downtown, we scooted into Ken Barry’s office to get my new glasses. Mr. Barry was a bit of a blur because everything happened so quickly. When I stepped outside the office, the first person I ever saw with clarity was Milt Robinson.

And I still see him clearly.

 -30-

Written by Cecil Scaglione

May 30, 2015 at 8:43 am

Eye-Care Professionals Hunger for Nutrition Knowledge

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bunnyBy James Gaffney

Mature Life Features

Some of you may recall, when being urged to eat your vegetables, your parents told you carrots were good for your eyesight.

While they couldn’t support this for sure, an eye-catching 86 percent of optometrists in the United Kingdom said they would take dietary supplements for eye health, according to the British journal Optician. However, less than 40 percent made such products available at their practice.

An overwhelming majority — 93 percent — reported nutrition was not included in their university education, according to a survey aimed at the application of new learning issues to their everyday practice. Nearly all of them  – 98 percent — said they wanted to learn more about nutrition.

“These survey results reveal the growing awareness and interest among these practitioners, and as their knowledge is enhanced, consumers are sure to benefit,” said Dr. Cindy Schweitzer, Cognis’ senior scientist at the time of the survey and head of its North American research programs on lutein esters, mixed carotenoids, and natural vitamin E. Cognis is a worldwide supplier of specialty chemicals and nutritional ingredients and has some 9,000 employees in almost 50 countries.

Lutein esters are an effective source of lutein and are being studied for their potential benefits in the maintenance of eye health. Evidence continues to accumulate showing that intakes of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

“We’d like to encourage eye-health organizations here in the United States to survey members to see how their nutritional wisdom compares to their colleagues in the UK,” she said.

Only 2 percent of the practitioners polled thought nutrition unimportant while about 65 percent said they recommend eye supplements to their patients on an occasional basis.

Several factors have come together to drive this heightened awareness and interest. Foremost is demographics. As the population ages, the incidence of age-related eye diseases rises. Long-term research studies are adding support to documentary evidence of age-related eye disease and the beneficial effects of certain vitamins and carotenoids.

Mature Life Features, Copyright 2004

Written by Cecil Scaglione

March 1, 2013 at 12:05 am