Wednesday, November 16, 2016


Did you know cataracts are black? I didn't. I grew up watching the neighbor's old, old dog wandering up the middle of the street with white film over its eyes. Somebody explained it it was in the street because it was blind, and it was blind because those white things were cataracts. Nobody ever contradicted that piece of "knowledge".

Not till today.

I just got home from my annual eye exam. It's the one that insurance actually covers, along with a tiny fee towards new glasses. I try these days to be a bit more religious about getting it done because they need to be checked to see if my pre-diabetes is having any effect on them. The first exam after the diagnosis revealed something called a "Nevis", easy enough to remember since I went to school in that small town in rural Minnesota from first through third grade, way back when postage stamps climbed from two to three cents and Mom was complaining on and on about it as we were leaving the post office once. Anyway, the next annual exam showed that it disappeared, and has never returned. The spot, not the town.

Well, unless it's in my left eye. They have a harder time seeing in than I do seeing out right now, so many things are possible.

I knew something was starting to happen just before last year's exam. For a few weeks I was positive I couldn't be getting my glasses lenses clear enough. I kept wiping them and wiping them, but they just never got clear. Not that my nearsighted eyes could see what was on them without wearing them, but....

Still, some days were better than others, which is why I figured it was just me. Or a dirty spot on the hanky. Or the new cleaner I bought just wasn't up to the task. I mentioned it at the eye exam, but that was one of the clear days, and nothing was said about it. I just got one of those looks like I was wearing three heads or something, like you get when nobody else experiences what you do.

I was given new glasses with a tiny correction, hated them immediately, and tucked them away somewhere. You know, in that "safe place" that turns out to be a hole in the space time continuum. The same spot my mother's ring and several important receipts have landed in over the years. As far as the glasses go, I'm much happier with my old titanium frames anyway. But I really miss that ring.

As time passed,  the blur got worse. And occasionally a bit better. Still, one eye sufficed for watching TV, driving, and most importantly of all, reading.

Early this week it worsened enough to drive me in for my annual exam, delayed for lots of unimportant reasons. That eye can see vague forms, light and shadow, washed out colors. Details are gone. I know that my display cabinets hold a plethora of very detailed pottery, since I see them clearly right-eyed. Left-eyed they are a brown blur in a couple of fuzzy tones. The window is bright - during the day - but the blinds, houses across the street, and passing vehicles don't exist. I can tell there are five bright spots in the chandelier over the table, but they look like they are coated with a thin black gauze. It moves slightly with major head movements, but otherwise the details stay the same in front of the lights.

Can you tell I've been studying what I can/can't see?

The exam proved  it was definitely a cataract. Not only did it drive his machines bonkers when they tried to get their various readings on my eyes before the Rx check, but when he shined his bright little light into that eye he was unable to see in. It was like a brick wall. I jokingly asked whether they were stacked horizontally or vertically, and he replied they were more like round cobblestones. Interesting. From my perspective, his bright little light simply vanished to black when he aimed it into the eye. That part really surprised me, since I can see out a bit still. The right eye he had just used it in still was having the afterimage dancing around on a squiggly line from its turn.

We didn't bother dilating my eyes since that will need to be done by the surgeon anyway before proceeding further. Any surgery will likely change my prescription once again, so I have to return afterwards to re-do that part with the first Doc. None of this stopped the staff at the counter from trying to interest me in a pair of new glasses before I left, of course.

Must be on commission.

I walked out with a set of referrals to pick from for further exam, and presumably surgery. One is a bit more of a drive than the others, but considering I likely got some help in growing this left side cataract from my two million miles behind the wheel, the drive doesn't scare me. Besides, the Doc in question is this Doc's very own Doc. I figure what better referral can there be?

And they'll see me tomorrow afternoon.

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