BILATERAL CATARACT EXTRACTION and INTRAOCULAR LENS IMPLANT – What a mouthful!
The time had finally come for my eye surgery.
My right eye (the worst one) was to be done on Monday 20 June and my left eye was to be done the next day on Tuesday 21 June.
The Tennis Player (aka hubby) has a few days off work on carer’s leave as I will be unable to get myself to and from appointments and will need help initially with all the eye drops (more on that later).
This is an account of my experience – the first six days anyway. If you ever need this procedure done this should hopefully provide a good guide for whats ahead for you. And guess what – it’s all aok! Read on to see what I mean.
I had my procedure done at Eye Tech Day Surgeries Southside (Mt Gravatt) by my local Opthamologist and my experience there is all positive!
I could find very few stock images relative to eye surgery that were FREE so apart from the image at the top of this post, the rest are all my own images. Luckily I’d taken a few to post to my Instagram stories and can use those.
Day 1 – Monday 20 June
Preparing at home
I have to be there at 3:00pm so I have all day to get nervous and in typical Min style, my nerves are starting to get the better of me. I barely slept the night before. I had terrible reflux last night and this morning.
I was allowed to have breakfast this morning and to take my usual medications and supplements. I also took some Gaviscon for the reflux. I was not allowed any food after 9:30am. I was allowed water up until 1:30pm.
I have a shower, shave my legs, wash and dry my hair, and leave my face & eyes free of any makeup. I dress in loose and comfortable clothing – a pair of elastic wasted long & loose comfy pants, a short sleeved blouse with a scoop neck, and a cardigan (it’s cold). At 2:15pm we leave.
We arrive and after telling them at the Reception desk who we are and that we’re here we sit and wait in the waiting room. They call us over and we complete some paperwork. Nurses come out and call for carers to come back and collect their person. I see them come out with big eye patches over their eyes and being gently guided by their person. I know that will soon be me.
Let’s touch briefly on why my right eye which is being done first is the worst eye. It is because it has an Astigmatism. It’s not perfectly sphere shaped like an eye should be. It’s odd shaped, more like a football than a soccer ball for example. Here’s more on what an Astigmatism is.
And so it begins
Then it happens … they call my name! OMG – heart racing much? My turn!
I was taken out the back to a room where a hospital band was put on my wrist and my hair was scooped up and put into one of those lovely surgical caps. I confirmed which eye was being done today and the procedure I was about to have, and a red dot sticker was placed on my forehead above that eye. More paperwork was done, more signatures, and eye drops were put in my eye to ‘numb’ it a few times during this process.
I was then led to another waiting room to wait to see the Anaesthetist.
We are able to stay in our own clothes for this surgery. Eye surgery is considered ‘clean surgery’ – there is no blood involved.
Then a door opens and I’m called in. It’s my Anaesthetist – a lovely lady. She again confirms which procedure I’m having done today and which eye. She applies more drops to numb my eye. She draws dots on my eyeball as requested by my Opthamalogist. I don’t feel a thing but do see the marker going towards my eye. All is fine though.
I tell her I’m very nervous. She says it’s understandable and everyone always is so I was not unusual. She reassures me though that all will be fine and they will take good care of me. She explains that I’ll be having ‘twilight anaesthetic‘ and that I’ll be aware but won’t see or feel or remember anything much. Um … ok!
Next I was led through a door to where the operation would be taking place and was helped up onto the operating bed/table. A cannular was put into my arm and I really don’t remember much after that. I am aware that I was aware but I don’t remember any conversations going on around me. I remember nothing really, I know that I felt calm and serene.
And it’s all done!
When they stood me up from the table I was so relieved it was over I hugged the Anaesthetist and told her I want some of that stuff bottled to take home with me!
I remember being put into a wheelchair and wheeled to a recovery room where I sat in a comfy arm chair and was brought some sandwiches and a cup of tea. Oh those sandwiches were delicious!
I had an eye patch on my eye over a plastic dome shaped shield. I felt no pain at all. I could still see (though blurringly) through my left eye. We were given a bag of goodies – a heap of eye drops and instructions (more on these soon), information on the make, model and serial number of my lens implant, a pair of Polarised UV protection sunglasses and a feedback form.
Then we were off and on our way home. Once home I lay on the bed, watched a bit of Netflix and took it easy.
I left the eye covering as it was and slept quite well that night.
Day 2 – Tuesday 21 June
An earlier start today. I have to be there at 7am. I was not allowed to eat anything after 1:30am. I’d had nothing since 7pm the night before when I’d had dinner. I was allowed to take my reflux tablet with a sip of water before 6am but none of my supplements. The eye patch and plastic shield were removed and The Tennis Player applied my first lot of eye drops. There was bruising under my eye which I’d been told was possible. This is from where they inject under the eye to ‘put it to sleep’. I have no memory of this thankfully!
I dressed in loose comfortable clothes again, no make up, put on the sunglasses the’d provided and off we went. I was not as nervous this time.
Same process as yesterday at first. Waited in the waiting room. Called over to fill in paperwork. Then I was called out the back and it was my turn again! Again, I had a new hospital band applied, the red dot placed over my left eye, more drops to numb my eye, more paperwork. This time though, my Opthamologist’s head Optometrist came to collect me and took me in the lift to a room on the next level up. Here she checked my right eye – what I could see, how it was looking etc. Then I was taken back down and waited again in the waiting room for my Anaesthetist.
It was a longer wait today and this time there were others in the waiting room for the Anaesthetist. We got chatting and that was fun! I recognised some of them from yesterday which is amazing considering we’re all wearing masks! We were all relieved at how painless it had been and all were very nervous the day before but not as nervous today.
Then I was called and I was in a room with my Anaesthetist again. Same process as last time. I mentioned to her that I remembered hugging her and she said yes I did and it was a lovely surprise. I bet! lol
We went back and onto the operating table I went and it was all exactly like the day before.
Afterwards, more yummy sandwiches and a cup of tea and we were given another bag of goodies for this eye.
This time though – I could barely see a thing. My right eye had had surgery the day before and though uncovered was like looking through thick fog (plus my Astigmatism makes it worse) and my left eye (the good eye) was now covered.
Off we went home. At lunch time drops were applied to both eyes (so patch removed off my left eye). I was pretty useless. I had no pain but couldn’t see hardly at all. I couldn’t read. Couldn’t watch TV. So I listened to Podcasts and napped.
When it was bedtime I put the plastic shields over both eyes and held in place with tape. This is to protect my eyes from inadvertently rubbing or knocking them.
I slept pretty well!
Day 3 – Wednesday 22 June
Wake up. Remove plastic shields. The Tennis Player applies eye drops to both eyes. I still feel no pain. Vision better than yesterday but right eye still a bit blurry and need glasses to read anything. My left eye is seeing so amazingly well – lots of wows! I’m using my old glasses to help a bit for reading but have to hold the lens from the left eye of glasses over my right eye because the lens in my glasses for my right eye are so strong that they are impossible to see with.
Have a 9:45am appointment with my Opthamologist’s head Optometrist to have both eyes checked. My right eye has improved a lot since she looked at it yesterday. My left eye is doing really well. I’m legally AOK to drive. I asked her to explain to me what all the eye drops are for. I was familiar withe Chlorsig and Systane but not the other two.
A run down on all the eye drops
- Chlorsig – to prevent any infection. This has to be applied to the eyes 4 times a day for 1 week.
- Maxidex – to help reduce inflammation around the front of the eye. This has to be applied 4 times a day for 4 weeks.
- Ilevro – to help reduce inflammation around the back of the eye. This has to be applied once a day for 4 weeks.
- Systane Ultra UD – for dry eye. Use only when or if needed (if eye feels gritty or scratchy).
They provide a chart for your 4 weeks worth of eye drops that you can tick off as you go.
Post Operative Rules
- Wash hands before drops and space drops apart by no less than 5 minutes
- Can shower 24 hours after surgery but keep eyes closed for one week
- Can wash hair three days after surgery (ensure closed eyes and no water enters eyes)
- Driving is ok 24 hours following surgery if comfortable with vision
- There’s a whole list of when you can resume particular physical activities but relevant to me is that i cannot resume yoga and pilates for 2 weeks following surgery but I can walk (but no power walking or hiking)
- No bending or heavy lifting for at least one week following surgery
I’m seeing really great for distance and for general walking around. Colours are so bright and whites are so much whiter! I’ve said WOW so many times! I can’t read at all without glasses though (I hope it improves) and my current reading glasses are no good so I need something for the interim before my eyes are retested and I get new reading glasses – which could be around six weeks away! On the way home from the appointment we drop into a chemist and buy some 2.5 x magnifying reading glasses for $22. They are helpful, not ideal, but will hopefully get me by.
Noticed today that I had a reaction to the tape they used at the cannular site. I’d filled in on the paperwork that I can react to tape and the tape they used for eye patches was all good (the papery kind). This one wasn’t though!
Day 4 – Thursday 23 June
Great to have a day we don’t have to go anywhere! The Tennis Player works from home today. I start to apply my own eye drops. I’ve been wearing the plastic shields over my eyes overnight. Must look a treat! Today my left eye feels a bit gritty so I use the Systane Ultra UD eyedrops for the first time. I still have no pain. Bruising under my eyes looks pretty awful! Good to be able to read a bit and watch some TV with the help of the cheap chemist glasses. I notice though that they lenses in them have a yellow tint and I don’t like that much.
Day 5 – Friday 24 June
I’m home alone! I’m feeling housebound. I decide it’s time for me to do a little local drive to see if I feel comfortable driving. I am legally AOK to drive but I haven’t felt comfortable to yet. I am due to go over to stay with Mum again next Tuesday and it’s a 45 minute drive to the other side of town and I need to drive when over there too so I need to know I’m ok driving.
I get my morning eye drops done and a few household chores and decide that I’ll take Ava (my dog) and myself to the waterfront for a gentle walk (I’m not supposed to power walk or get my heart rate up).
It was wonderful to get out of the house! My eyes could see fine but I was extra careful regardless cos they felt so vulnerable. I wore my bug eyed sunglasses they gave me. I forgot to apply sunscreen or take a hat and I forgot a plastic bag in case Ava went to the loo on the walk. My brain cells must have been affected by this whole process or something! Anyway it was a mild day and a beautiful day – I didn’t get sunburnt, my eyes were fine with the sunglasses, and Ava thankfully did not poop on the walk! I walked half the distance I usually would and we stopped half way to rest (me for my eyes and heart rate and Ava for her heart – she’s not meant to get hers up either). I bought a coffee and we sat at a picnic table enjoying the view and just being outdoors! Then we walked back to the car. It was a good day.
Day 6 – Saturday 25 June
I’m still wearing the shields at night. I have no pain but feeling a little dry and gritty mostly in my left eye so apply the Systane Ultra UD drops again today. I’m fine doing some general household chores. I lay out in the sun and read a bit by the pool – just to get out of the house and get some Vitamin D.
The biggest excitement for today was the fact I could wash my hair. It hadn’t been washed since Monday. I did as I was told and kept my eyes closed through the whole process. Pretty sure no water got in my eyes.
Day 5 – Sunday 26 June
Still wearing the shields on my eyes overnight. The paperwork says to for one week post surgery. The nurse in recovery told me just a couple of nights post surgery. I’ve decided to do the whole week because I am terrified I’ll rub or knock my eyes in my sleep and cause problems. I’m restless to get out of the house again. I tell The Tennis Player that I’d like to go to the local markets and grab some lunch there. He does a grocery shop. I do some washing and other domestic jobs and then we head off.
The markets were bustling! So many people and more stalls than usual. The only thing I bought was a pigs ear treat for Ava. We ended up getting a sausage and onion with mustard and BBQ sauce on bread. The proceeds of which go towards Wynnum, Manly and Districts’ Men’s Shed.
Day 6 – Monday 27 June
Wore the shields again last night. No pain. Left eye a little gritty.
Today I need to pack to go over to Mum’s tomorrow but I’ve been sidetracked by typing up this post. Will I get it finished and posted today? Hope so – there won’t be time tomorrow!
It’s basically back to all things normal now except for all the eye drops I need to apply, that I can’t do my yoga and pilates for another week, and the fact my eyes will actually take 4-6 weeks to fully heal from the operations on them. I also won’t know until 4 weeks what my final improved vision will be. I have my fingers crossed that my reading/close up vision will improve from what it is now. The Opthamologist did tell me that it will take my right eye much longer than my left to adjust and heal.
I chose to have lenses implanted that would allow me to walk around and see with fabulous vision. I was told that I ‘might’ still need glasses for reading. So far it seems pretty evident to me that I ‘will’ need glasses for reading and close work (like my art) but that I will still see so much better with reading glasses than I did before with reading glasses. I still have at least 3-5 weeks of healing and adjusting to go so I’m feeling pretty positive about things and have absolutely no regrets about having this done.
I’ll post again on this topic once I’ve had my eyes re-tested at the 4 week mark and have new reading glasses (probably around 6 weeks) to give my final thoughts based on the final outcome.
Finally, if you are thinking about having this done or are having this done, I hope this puts your fears to rest. It’s not painful. It’s not traumatic. It’s a bit of a nuisance having all the eye drops to apply so often and you live in limbo land for a while where you can’t wear your old reading glasses and you can’t yet get new reading glasses … but these things are no big deal and a cheap chemist magnifying pair of reading glasses will help get you by for the short term.
Ciao for now,